Chapter Obssession

I’ve noticed a strange trend in modern culture, or at least in online reading culture. My book “Dishonor” is 71,000 words, and while that is not the size of a monster Fantasy book, it is a fairly decent sized story. It is about the size of many Young Adult Self Published novels out there, which is why I ended book one around this length. I also ready that having a sequel was the best way to get your name out there more, so I broke down “Dishonor” into two books.

“Dishonor” is only 14 chapters. I actually wrote it without chapters. I divided it up into chapters after I finished by what felt like the most logical sections.

My most common comment on “Dishonor” is: “Its really short at 14 chapters”. My reaction is huh?

What I want to know is why does fourteen chapters make a book short? Is there something out there that says, “Your book is under twenty chapters, therefore it is a novella.”

I broke the story up in a way that felt logical. Some of the chapters are almost 10,000 words long. Some are somewhere between 2,000 to 4,000 words long.

Maybe this comment was simply made because my story is a quick easy read. I have no idea.

What I really want to know is why are people so obsessed with chapter count when chapters are such and arbitrary thing?


Writing Fun – A story about “Dishonored”

I recently started a new job which is giving me more time to write. As I was working on “Honored” chapter 5, I realized that between “Dishonor” and “Honored” I have passed 100,000 words.

Liv’s story has gone quite far from the early world I first envisioned as a senior in high school. In the original envisioning of the story, she lived in a slum where the Dishonored were kept (The Dishonored caste was inspired by the lowest caste in the Indian caste system). The guards were simply stationed around the edges of the slum and the dregs of society were thrown in there.

As I built up the city, I realized there were a couple problems with this model. Number one was that this city was going to have to be huge to provide for the people living in it. Space and supplies would be to valuable to allow people to just live as a useless part of the cog. In this society I saw it as more likely that these people would just be killed off rather than taking up space which wouldn’t work well for my story because then Liv would be dead and no story.

I had and epiphany and realized that the Dishonored’s existence could be justified if they had a job, but of course, people wouldn’t want the Dishonored just roaming the city. To these people that would be like allowing convicted felons to roam among them.

This made me think, “Well, if people consider them the same as felons, what if they live like felons?”

From here the slum became a prison. But this prison was for people that everyone hated and looked down on. This prison was a place where all the people were just a broken leg away from being killed for taking up resources and space.

Around this time in the planning process of the story I was looking at traveling to Cambodia and Thailand. One of the things that I was going to do was to see a torture prison from the Khmer Rouge regime. This influenced me into deciding to reflect the torture prisons from genocides.

The prison for the Dishonored in my book takes a little from the Holocaust of World War II and a little from the torture prison in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. I will stress that in no way is the prison of Dishonor anywhere near as bad as these prisons.

At one point a reviewer told me that the over abundance of gratuitous violence was grating and angsty and I should tone down the violence. I tried to keep the violence down while keeping it real. Torture prisons are ugly horrible places. The small stories of violence and personal humiliation are nothing like those of the torture prison in Phnom Pehn. I wanted to try and make the violence senseless and horrible, like these places.

After some thought and advice from my editor about the readers and age I was writing for, I reworked the violence so that each moment of violence had a point and was better sewn onto the story.

This version of the treatment of the Dishonored is what you will read in my most current version of the story.

Dishonor is free to read on right now:


Logical Writing

So I was sitting here, carefully planning out actions and reactions for the next section of Honored, thinking about how because this happened, this is how this character will react. And then, I moved into the unwritten territory of space, and thought, hmmm, if the character does this, then this will happen, because this is the action type of the character, and my characters current loop until something changes her behavior.

And then I realized why my stories are always so logical. I am a computer programmer, and I plan my stories out just like I do a computer program. This while loop runs until… If this happens, then this happens. Because this condition was met, this will happen.

I never really thought about the connection before now. I guess the conditionals were not correct for this realization until now.