To chapter or not to chapter? That is today’s topic.
I don’t write in chapters. I believe that I am in the minority when I choose not to do so, though of course I know others who write that way, part or all of the time. For me, it just isn’t compatible with my writing style, which is haphazard and disjointed, so I decided on July 1st to not worry about it. And that is exactly what I’ve done for the last 19 days: I haven’t given it another thought, and today I broke 50,000 words, so my methods are working fine for a first draft.
If I can figure out how to tell a coherent story without chapters, then I probably won’t include them in my revised novel, either. Some of my favorite novels use different structure entirely, so I feel that I am in good company. My natural writing style is very similar to the polished result in Unwind by Neal Shusterman. As a novel, it is comprised of larger sections, split into many small scenes, with each scene from a single perspective. There are no standard chapters, and the perspectives cover more than just the main characters: even random passersby have their moments, without feeling the need to become more important than they are.
Because I do intend to focus on my main characters, my overall style will be different from even my own example novels, but that was always going to be true anyway. I want to retain the option of inserting flashbacks and internal monologues, and jumping between characters as quickly as the story requires, even if that gives a character only a few paragraphs of their own. Therefore my preference would be for a lack of chapters.
In this case, of course, I am only speaking about my current novel, not anyone else’s. I don’t have any problem with chapters in books generally. And I wouldn’t really recommend writing without chapters because that structure can be much more helpful than leaving yourself a mess to sort out later. A chapter-free first draft was just the best course of action for me this month.
Today’s word count: 2,015
Total word count: 50,141
Today’s excerpt: It wasn’t the clear insanity of Coralie in this moment that made Mel scared. She hadn’t actually been frightened by Coralie before, simply irritated and worried. After all, a scary twelve-year-old girl is still a twelve-year-old girl, and Mel knew that no matter their differences, Audrey would keep her in line. But now, as Coralie held her in place with the blade and an odd, searching scrutiny, Mel was terrified. Coralie’s knife hand was steady, practiced. And the hand pressed against Mel’s mouth wasn’t clammy or shaky, even with adrenaline. It was as cool and dry as she would expect from a veteran, or a sociopath. This was not a child, she acknowledged in her mind while she held her gaze steady. This was a super-villain in training.