Some chapters are longer than others. Some are just short. I shouldn’t let it bother me too much, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t concern me.
It’s the geography that takes time.
I don’t mean countries, I mean the placing of characters and how to maneuver them onto the correct path. Chapter 11 is a prime example of this.
I need to get Crystal, Elsie and Leo to Morris’ hole (insert obvious ‘Carry-On’ joke here). First, they needed to decide to go there. This has taken 3 A4 pages. Now, it was originally 2 pages, but an idea came to me and I went with it. I have written in a little scene where Leo’s mates see him with the two girls and decide to join them and make fun of him.
This was such a great scene to write. It was really real. And after the last two mythical chapters I needed me some real.
The boys teasing their friend is just what would happen. I had fun naming them too. It was also great to get to know Leo a bit better, and not just in a reacting-to-Crystal’s-magical-adventures-and-problems kind of way. Seeing him around his friends gives us a real insight into who he is.
The next part of the chapter was meeting at Crystal’s house to go and see Morris. This took two and a half A4 pages. I had previously had a crack at it and wasn’t feeling it. It’s hard to define exactly what I didn’t like about it… But I’ll try.
I originally had Elsie arriving first dressed in an outfit completely inappropriate for a walk in the woods. Crystal’s reaction was great but Leo wasn’t there; that was the problem. Leo had to already be there to share in the reaction.
So I got Leo there first and then they couldn’t just wait in silence for Elsie to turn up; so I wrote a little chat between them.
This conversation is a brilliant addition to the chapter because it allows us to learn even more about Leo and his family. I obviously knew Leo’s circumstances, but Crystal didn’t and I didn’t really have a plan as to when she would find out; it might have even happened off-stage as it were. But this is better!
I’ve given Crystal the reassurance in Leo that she needs. He understands, in his own way, what she is going through and now she understands why he’s helping her. It’s a nice little conversation which I think really helps with his characterisation, but it has taken words.
So now, I am 6 pages into the chapter and we haven’t even arrived at Morris’ home yet.
I also have the song. Morris sings a song in this chapter which I really want in there. See my previous post One Year To Go… to read all about that. But this, again, takes words. In fact it takes a whole page!
So, looking ahead, Morris’ home is going to take a fair bit of description. And then there is the conversation where we find our next clue which moves the narrative forwards.
And the plan for the next chapter is to be set somewhere different again; this won’t need to be set up, thankfully, as the plan is to set it up with Morris. So there’s a lot to get into this chapter; perhaps too much…
I am now going to love you and leave you with a Carrie Bradshaw-esque question:
Fellow writers, when it comes to the number of pages in a chapter, does size matter?