When you ‘re a child, and someone’s reading to you, there’s always that hope that they might read you another chapter; and as an adult, you ponder, as you approach the end of that chapter, whether you can stand reading another one, or will your own voice send you to sleep.
At this point, the chapter seems relevant, useful, essential.
They’re often about 1000 words apart and they help to regulate the story, like a heartbeat, or a pendulum.
But as the readership gets older and the story perhaps more about inner dialogue and less about action, so the placing of the chapter break becomes more difficult.
I’ve just finished the almost final draft of Bus Stop Baby, a book about Amy, a twelve year old who finds an abandoned baby in a cardboard box in the village bus shelter. I wrote the book in a single splurge in sixteen days last summer. It had been boiling up for a while and came out like a geyser, faster and faster until I abandoned the spelling, the punctuation, the names, all of it in favour of getting it out before I forgot the initial intensity of Amy and her character.
The result, a rope of a manuscript with no regulation. No formal breaks. No chapters. I put in the punctuation. The spelling was done by my computer – but the chapters…
Well, I’m still struggling with those.
BUS STOP BABY will be published in July of this year.