work in progress · Writing

On Chapters and Endings

So, my novel WiP, it is a urban fantasy. It involves ghosts, blood and portals and stuff like that. I am into chapter 6. The thing is, I am wondering if it really is chapter 6. Some of the chapters I started because I needed to start on a fresh, empty screen. I needed the break to continue writing because I was having a hard time with scene transitions (that is a post for another day!). A new word document made it easier somehow. So I wonder – do I really have 5 complete chapters? Maybe I just have 3 or 4 or possibly 7. How do I know?

How do people know when a chapter is done? Some other writers have one scene chapters and I’ve even seen some one paragraph chapters. I think I read somewhere that Jim Butcher ends chapters so that they end on a cliff hanger, so you must turn to the next chapter to find out what is going on. If that’s true, it works. I guess it is a personal choice. I just wish I knew how other writers decide when to start a new chapter because I haven’t figured it out yet.

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6 thoughts on “On Chapters and Endings

  1. I write in scenes for this exact reason… It’s easy to finish a single scene, even if happens to be 10 pages. Then I can piece them together OR cut a scene in half to create that cliff-hanger for a chapter. I’m waiting to finish before I make those chapter decisions 🙂

      1. Probably works better than me starting new chapters almost randomly. But the writing software – does it demand a chapter layout? If the software – Storybook, Scrivener – demands chapters of the writers . . . how does that work?

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