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I Want To Start Chapter 2 But Can't Decide On The Cut Off Point (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I'm at the very last scene of chapter 1 but right now it's a little muddy. Now that Stitch has mentioned the storm is almost upon them, Yarrod wants to leave for town in the hope of outrunning it. Fiddlesticks won't allow him to leave immediately though and still wants questions answered. Eventually the hold up leaves them no alternative but to hide with Fiddlesticks who has a trapdoor built into the floor of his wigwam that leads into a warren of caves.

The scene after this is in chapter 2 and contains the antagonist, Aryngroth. We get to find out more about her and convey some information about them looking for 'The Boneman', but at that point, we're not certain who the boneman is. The boneman is Fiddlesticks, which should be easily guessed by the reader I'd say. So I want to then skip back immediately to the scene with Yarrod and Fiddlesticks (where ever they are).

My problem is, where to put that cut. I need Fiddlesticks to convey some more information to Yarrod pertaining to his colloquial name 'The Gravedigger' plus a few other juicy snippets. I can extend the second scene of chapter 1 to include that conversation/info at the end, before the storm hits or I can jump straight to the first scene in chapter two just as Yarrod and Fiddlesticks jump into the hatch and enter the warren of caves, and on returning to chapter 2, scene 2, have that conversation in the cave system while the storm is raging outside. Scene 3 is Yarrod walking into town to buy a horse, taking it out into the wilderness and turning it into Brimstone.

Depending on how long chapter 2 is, I might move scene 3 to chapter 3. I want to keep my chapters between 10 - 15 pages if possible. Perhaps having a storm as a backdrop for the terrible news he's the Gravedigger might just set that scene up better?
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Long ago I read a book (forget the author, but it might have been Vonnegut) that had no chapters, just scenes.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Long ago I read a book (forget the author, but it might have been Vonnegut) that had no chapters, just scenes.
Bloody hell. That's not helpful for me though is it. lol. I'm leaning towards having the backdrop of a storm for the conversation about Yarrod being The Gravedigger, but perhaps there's another angle I'm missing.

I suppose it's really down to, do I leave the reader hanging on the conversation itself and then jump to Aryngroth or do I leave the reader suspended after they enter the cave and jump to Aryngroth. Which offers the most value in terms of tension? The reason I rethought this in the first place was I was worried it may feel rushed to a conclusion of the scene if I carry the conversation on, include the new info and then have the storm hit. If I cut as the storm arrived (go to Aryngroth) and then cut back to the cave, the storm and the conversation, that break might create some extra tension. 'I wonder what's going to happen?' so to speak.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Bloody hell. That's not helpful for me though is it. lol. I'm leaning towards having the backdrop of a storm for the conversation about Yarrod being The Gravedigger, but perhaps there's another angle I'm missing.

I suppose it's really down to, do I leave the reader hanging on the conversation itself and then jump to Aryngroth or do I leave the reader suspended after they enter the cave and jump to Aryngroth. Which offers the most value in terms of tension? The reason I rethought this in the first place was I was worried it may feel rushed to a conclusion of the scene if I carry the conversation on, include the new info and then have the storm hit. If I cut as the storm arrived (go to Aryngroth) and then cut back to the cave, the storm and the conversation, that break might create some extra tension. 'I wonder what's going to happen?' so to speak.
Only you can make the decision of where you chapter/scene breaks are. For me, it's fairly simple because as I plot I break the story into chewable chunks.
 

Riptide

WF Veterans
I heard one writer say that in your first draft you shouldn't put chapter breaks. Idk, that feels cluttered to me, but maybe it'll work? if you simply break your story into the scenes you already sort of have planned. Then you can move things around no problem at the end. I say just write it now
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I heard one writer say that in your first draft you shouldn't put chapter breaks. Idk, that feels cluttered to me, but maybe it'll work? if you simply break your story into the scenes you already sort of have planned. Then you can move things around no problem at the end. I say just write it now
It's ok, I've worked through it and think I've got the right place for a break. It'll be better if I jump over to scene 1, chapter 2 when they're safely in the tunnels. In scene 1 of chapter 2 we find out why they're looking for Fiddlesticks and when I flip back to the scene down the cave, I can expand on it further through dialogue with Fiddlesicks. It also means I can end chapter 1 on an exciting scene. The Timestalker turning up and searching just before they jump down the cave.
 

Fiender

Senior Member
This might not be helpful (SORRY!) but I try to make my first chapters as close to ten pages long as possible, since that's the amount of pages most agents ask for when they want a sample.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Chapter endings are generally left off with a promise that something more intense will be happening in the next chapter. So, even though we've resolved something in this chapter, the next chapter will be that much more important for you to read.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
Why are you even burdening yourself with the question where exactly to end one chapter and start a new one?

While you are writing, the only reason to group scenes into chapters is so you can find things in your manuscript quickly and easily.

Only when the entire novel is finished should you begin to think how to divide the text so that it would be convenient for the readers.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Why are you even burdening yourself with the question where exactly to end one chapter and start a new one?

While you are writing, the only reason to group scenes into chapters is so you can find things in your manuscript quickly and easily.

Only when the entire novel is finished should you begin to think how to divide the text so that it would be convenient for the readers.
I actually use my chapters as a way to section off large changes in location, tone or status quo.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
I actually use my chapters as a way to section off large changes in location, tone or status quo.

That makes perfect sense. But I don't understand why can't the OP just go on writing instead of racking his brain with the question where exactly should chapter 1 end and chapter 2 begin.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
That makes perfect sense. But I don't understand why can't the OP just go on writing instead of racking his brain with the question where exactly should chapter 1 end and chapter 2 begin.
Who knows, but I also have strange "hang ups" with my own writing. If I can't conjure a good outline, I can't start writing. What's strange is, I rarely ever follow the entirety of my outlines. So, we all have our oddities, we're writers after all.
 

Non Serviam

WF Veterans
Chapters are for the reader, not the author. Books are read in shifts, and chapter breaks are dividers to tell the reader where they can safely put the book down and go to sleep. So when assigning chapter breaks, the key is the length of each chapter.

The "average" chapter length in published fiction is about 5,000 words, but that frequently ranges much lower or higher. There are gimmicks where people write a chapter that consists of a couple of words, or even a single punctuation mark; apart from these, the shortest non-gimmick chapter that I'm aware of from published fiction is chapter 8 of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells which is 158 words long. Terry Pratchett didn't bother with chapters at all so his books are technically one chapter of 80,000 words or more.

If you stick to an average of 5,000 words per chapter, then your conventional trade paperback novel would consist of between 17 and 23 chapters.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
IMO chapter length falls into the category of personal preference. I keep mine in the 3,000 to 3,500 range.
 
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