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February 19, 2012
Posted at 10:30 pm

Prying the Cycle From Your Cold, Rigid Fingers

Writers build habits. One noticeable habit that writers develop is to start and stop a day's worth of writing in a similar place during each work period. An author who writes 3 or 4 paragraphs a day tends to have the story move forward one event worth of time in those paragraphs; a chapter-a-sitting writer will make the ending of the chapter coincide with the end of the episode written about. Thus, events are recounted in chunks that become boringly about the same length in telling. The most monotonous story telling comes with chapters that represent "a day in the life of."

I caught myself doing this. I'd begin a chapter with my protagonist getting up in the morning. My 3 to 5 paragraphs a day cycle would mean I'd add one finished happening per sitting. When I felt my chapter was ending, the lights would come down on the hero going to bed with all the issues of the day completed. Yawn. It's neat and it's easy to encapsulate our thinking like this, but you're going to lose readers who fall off to sleep with you.

So, shake it up! Stop for the day half way through an adventure, making a few notes to remember where you were going when you next pick up the writing. End your chapter in a place of excitement to carry the reader through (perhaps not a cliff hanger, though, they deserve another slavering rant). Experiment with making different circumstances vary in time duration. These changes will make the story much more realistic and lively for you and your readers.