Wednesday, November 21, 2018
WRITER 2 WRITER: SHORT CHAPTERS
HOW TO WRITE A REAL-PAGE TURNER, PART III
Two weeks ago, I defined what being a Page-Turner is and why writers should seriously consider writing one. Last week I shared “5 Sure Fire Fun-Suckers”, things that make books boring. Today I will discuss the first of three “Page-Turner Techniques” that are sure to make your work in progress a “can’t-put-it-down” book.
#1. SHORTER CHAPTERS
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But the truth is that you will simply lose many readers after just a few pages. How many times have you opened a book and counted the pages in a particular chapter to see if you really felt like committing yourself to it? Chances are if the chapter was too long, you put the book down and reached for something else.
Pick up a few books you consider “page-turners.” Chances are most of them have pretty short chapters. For example, Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code has chapters as short as a single page. The overall length of two books may be exactly the same, but the fact remains that short chapters achieve two very important things for your reader:
* Creates the illusion of a “fast read.”
* Increases the likelihood that the reader will read multiple chapters in a single sitting.
When asked about whether or not the act of reading books is in danger of giving way to electronic media, Author Hernan Casciari said the following:
“What’s important right now is our lack of concentration, our inability to be able to read, listen or write for more than 20 minutes.”
Actually, Casciari hit the nail on the head, and here’s why.
In 2012, the Associated Press published research revealing that the attention span of the average person (adult or child) is a mere 8 second. 8 seconds!!! That’s how long you have to capture your readers’ attention–and KEEP IT!
To give you an idea of what we’re up against, in the year 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds, and the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds.
Now, we can bemoan the damage to our brains caused by video games and TV shows all we want, but as writers, we need to look at this information through different lenses. Our readers’ attention spans are shrinking. So, the question is not how do we stop this, but how can we best reach our readers on their level?
TRY THIS OUT!
If you are working on a manuscript right now, try these tweaks to help make your story more “bite-sized.”
1. Write chapters that are between 3 – 5 pages (800-1300 words, or even less)
2. Divide longer chapters into two or more shorter chapters.
3. Utilize Framing Devices to separate shorter scenes within a longer chapter:
* White Space (add an extra blank line)
* Varied Font (use italics to identify quotes, different forms of text such as
journal entries or letters, or for dreams, flash backs, etc.)
* Asterisks (can be used within white space)
Next week, we’ll dive into another proven technique for helping your book become a page-turner. In the meantime, check out PAGE-TURNER: YOUR PATH T WRITING A NOVEL THAT PUBLISHERS WANT AND READERS BUY by Barbara Kyle.