Normally, I write by word count. If I’m writing the first draft of a novel, I determine that each chapter is going to be 2000 words. Sometimes that means I have to expand the chapter and put more into it, and sometimes that means I have to take things out in order to meet that word count. I’d rather my first drafts be very long, rather than not long enough. For me, it’s easier to take away unnecessary text than to add more text.
But this time around, when I’m rewriting, I’m not giving myself any particular word count for chapters or scenes. I stop writing the chapter or scene when I feel like it’s finished and there’s nothing more to add. In a way, this is working out well for me, but in a way, I feel like the chapters and scenes are too short. None of them have been more than 1500 words so far – and that feels funny because I’m so used to writing 2000-word sections at a time.
In a few of the books I’ve read on novel writing, they tell you that the chapter and scene lengths should vary, so that the reader doesn’t get bored reading long chapter after long chapter – or that with too many short chapters, the pace ends up being choppy.
I suppose everything will come to light when I finish this particular round of rewrites and read the story over again. Perhaps the chapters will have a more natural flow… or maybe I’ll find out that the pacing is far too fast and I need to somehow slow it down.
All I know is that it feels funny being finished with the chapter, then looking at my word count and seeing that it’s only 1200 words or so. Strange…