It’s time for my March contribution to the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop where dozens of authors post their thoughts on subjects of writing. This month I discuss Grading Your Chapters.
I tend to write short chapters that shift by venue, time or maybe point of view. My 325-page novels may have 40 or more chapters. I find shorter chapters help the story progress rapidly and give readers a sense of achievement as they move through the novel.
After finishing a first draft and before I turn the manuscript over to Claudia (my editor), I read the book end to end to get a feel for continuity and flow, grading each chapter (1-poor to 5-excellent). I’ll then return to focus on those chapters rated the lowest, but will eventually work to improve each of them.
The questions I ask as I grade the chapters include:
- Does the first paragraph(s) grab you, pulling you forward?
- Is anything new presented to the reader? If so, is it described or told as backdrop?
- If new characters are introduced, are they compelling and needed for the plot?
- Are there elements of intrigue, danger, excitement, or mystery? If not, what purpose does the chapter serve?
- Does the end of the chapter leave the reader wanting more or does it just fall off?
One additional editing step that can be done at this time is running each chapter through a writing editor like ProWritingAid, Grammarly, or AutoCrit. There are many other editors, and I’m not suggesting which one is the best, although I’m most familiar with ProWritingAid. The output of these tools is voluminous, and it’s eventually the author’s decision on which recommendations to use.
I will typically read and edit my manuscript several times before having Claudia mark it up, but this chapter focus is a bite-sized way for me to tackle the first major revisions.
Not all chapters can be spinetinglers, but having a multi-chapter lull in a book is difficult to overcome. It might lead to the reader placing the book or e-reader on the nightstand, never to return. Grading your chapters can find these lulls before your readers discover them.
To enjoy other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click HERE. Happy blogging!
You can read an award-winning short story from MOST MEN HERE. Pour a cup of coffee and sit back. It’s FREE and very few calories.