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Do you know up front how many chapters in your WIP?

PotomacBob

I thought I'd check on Banadin, since it's been moren 4 months since his most recent chapter was posted. Found a blog entry from late November saying he'd been distracted by good happenings in his life, and that he still had chapters 14 thru 18 to write in his latest, and that he would finish it.
That made me wonder: who knows in advance how many chapters a story will end up?

awnlee jawking

Some authors outline each scene and arrange them in chapters before starting to write in earnest - a few of my writers' group adopt that approach.

I'm rather more slapdash - I start at the beginning and meander towards the end and the number of chapters can't accurately be predicted before reaching the end :)

AJ

Remus2

@PotomacBob

Hopefully there is a plan to finish the story (Jackson). However, real life must be taken care of first.

Knowing in advanced how many chapters, appears to be the exception not the rule.

Switch Blayde

@PotomacBob

No, I don't do a detailed outline.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Michael Loucks

@PotomacBob

I never know exactly how many chapters. The characters have a way of running away with the story at times!

Baltimore Rogers
Updated:

@PotomacBob

I try very hard to have a complete draft of the whole story before posting. That not only gives me an accurate chapter count, it also keeps me from leaving the story hanging, which is kind of a pet peeve of mine (I'm looking at you, Awnlee).

Even so, I have occasionally gotten to the late stage of pre-post proofing and decided to split a long chapter into two short ones. So, nothing is foolproof really.

Switch Blayde

@Baltimore Rogers

It also keeps me from leaving the story hanging,


You don't need an outline to do that. Simply know the ending before you begin and write toward that ending.

Baltimore Rogers

@Switch Blayde

You don't need an outline to do that. Simply know the ending before you begin and write toward that ending.


Well, quite frankly, I don't need an outline at all. Or an ending. What I generally *DO* need is fleshed out characters. And I don't have that until I'm about two or three chapters in. THEN I figure out the ending and write toward it.

But again, what I actually SAID is that I prefer to have a complete DRAFT -- not outline, DRAFT -- of the story before I start posting.

Switch Blayde

not outline, DRAFT -- of the story before I start posting.


I wasn't talking about posting. My story is finished before I post a single chapter.

I believe that plot = conflict. The protagonist wants/needs something and the antagonist is in the way. So if you know the conflict going in, you know how the conflict will be resolved (the ending).

Replies:   Baltimore Rogers
awnlee jawking

@Baltimore Rogers

(I'm looking at you, Awnlee).


Ducks behind the sofa.

If it's 'Gay!' you're interested in, now that I'm writing again I've been editing it from the beginning to refamiliarise myself with all the nuances and correct some minor issues which annoyed me. The changes are minor so when I start to release new chapters there's no need to re-read from the start.

AJ

Replies:   Baltimore Rogers
StarFleet Carl

@Switch Blayde

You don't need an outline to do that. Simply know the ending before you begin and write toward that ending.


It's possible to know the ending, and the beginning, but not know the path on how your characters actually get there. And, for that matter, for the ending of the story to change while you're getting there.

David Weber wrote in an afterword to his latest novel, 'Uncompromising Honor', that Honor Harrington was originally plotted to die ... well, about 8 books ago. Mind you, he's been writing this series now for 25 years, with 21 total novels directly in the series, and 12 more novels that he's either co-written or edited stories based in the Honorverse.

Spoiler alert - she didn't die.

Now, I'm not drawing a direct comparison to that for what we do on here, but I think unless you're simply writing a mild variation upon insert tab A into slot B, that you want to make what you put out the best you can.

Which means that even with a detailed outline, you still probably don't have a total clue when writing the story exactly how many chapters you'll have at the end.

richardshagrin

@StarFleet Carl

variation upon insert tab A into slot B, ... Which means that even with a detailed outline, you still probably don't have a total clue when writing the story exactly how many chapters you'll have at the end.


If every chapter discusses a single variation the number of chapters should be fairly simple to plot. Depending on what you consider a tab A and a slot B, it might be just one chapter.

Ernest Bywater

I never know the exact number of chapters until the story is finished as I frequently will add scenes and sub-plots as I go, but I do know the theme, the start, the middle, the end, and the main characters before I start.

Switch Blayde

@StarFleet Carl

hat Honor Harrington was originally plotted to die


In my story "Matilda and the Assassin," Matilda was supposed to be a hitman at the end of the story. Then I was going to have a series of stories with her as the hitman. Problem is, I cared for her too much to make her live that life so I changed the ending.

But that was the ending of the story, not the ending of the plot. The ending that never changed (who really killed her family and her revenge) was what I was writing toward.

As to killing off the MC, in the novel "First Blood," both Rambo and the sheriff dies at the end. When they made it into a movie, Hollywood decided not to kill off Rambo. The author was against that because the whole concept of the story was the generation conflict (sheriff = Korean War; Rambo = Vietnam War) and he wanted both to die. He was right from the integrity of the story. Hollywood was right for financial reason. I think there were 5 Rambo movies after "First Blood."

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I don't do a detailed outline.

I don't write by story outline, but generally—especially later in the story—I've have a decent idea for how much longer the story will be. Since I write episodic chapters, I could count the specific episodes remaining. Occasionally a give chapter will be overly long, but I dislike splitting episodic chapters, since it defeats the purpose.

But then, I generally write 20 chapter stories, which range anyway from 17 to 28 chapters, though those are definitely the outliers.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It also keeps me from leaving the story hanging,

You don't need an outline to do that. Simply know the ending before you begin and write toward that ending.

That doesn't help if you run into a massive plot hole, or write yourself into a corner. In those cases, you typically have to deconstruct significant segments of the story, rewrite them, and start again. In which case, all your best guesses about story length are shot to hell!

Crumbly Writer

@StarFleet Carl

David Weber wrote in an afterword to his latest novel, 'Uncompromising Honor', that Honor Harrington was originally plotted to die ... well, about 8 books ago. Mind you, he's been writing this series now for 25 years, with 21 total novels directly in the series, and 12 more novels that he's either co-written or edited stories based in the Honorverse.

Spoiler alert - she didn't die.

Sorry, that's not a story going in different directions, that's an author not willing to let a best-selling story die out. After all, who's stupid enough to kill their golden goose. But still, if you're still writing the same story after 25 years, you stopped being an author a long time ago. Besides, most authors who go that route simply turn the writing over to other authors and don't bother writing anything themselves anymore.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Baltimore Rogers

@Switch Blayde

I wasn't talking about posting.


Well, the OP certainly *WAS* talking about posting, so excuse me if I could not deduce your sudden shift in context.

My story is finished before I post a single chapter.


Well, then. We seem to be in violent agreement. So why did you feel the need to admonish me about outlines, when I had said nothing at all about them?

I believe that plot = conflict. The protagonist wants/needs something and the antagonist is in the way. So if you know the conflict going in, you know how the conflict will be resolved (the ending).


Bully for you. You have a system that works for you. I have a different system that works for me. In the end we both seem to believe that no part of a story should be posted until the story is complete. I'm happy to leave it at that and part as friends.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Baltimore Rogers

@awnlee jawking

If it's 'Gay!' you're interested in,


Actually I have both "Gay!" and "Shaggy Dog" in my library and would be happy to see the completion of either.

StarFleet Carl

@Crumbly Writer

Sorry, that's not a story going in different directions, that's an author not willing to let a best-selling story die out. After all, who's stupid enough to kill their golden goose.


She was supposed to die, and then her kids would carry on the tradition.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Baltimore Rogers

Well, the OP certainly *WAS* talking about posting, so excuse me if I could not deduce your sudden shift in context.


The OP is: "Do you know up front how many chapters in your WIP?"

I didn't read that as posting.

Replies:   Baltimore Rogers
Baltimore Rogers
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

The OP is: "Do you know up front how many chapters in your WIP?"

I didn't read that as posting.

Did you read the entire OP or only the title? Here, let me read the very first sentence to you.

I thought I'd check on Banadin, since it's been moren [sic] 4 months since his most recent chapter was posted.


Context: The OP is referring to a story that is ALREADY POSTING.

Found a blog entry from late November saying he'd been distracted by good happenings in his life, and that he still had chapters 14 thru 18 to write in his latest, and that he would finish it.


Context: The OP notices that even though the story is not completely POSTED, the author knows how many chapters are left.

That made me wonder: who knows in advance how many chapters a story will end up?


Question in context: Do you, as an author, like Banadin, know how many chapters there will be in an ongoing story before you finish posting them?

My response to that question was, "Yes, because I always complete the story before posting."

Your response to my response was some non sequitur about outlines.

I think I'm done trying to figure out why you singled me out for this dubious distinction.

Replies:   Switch Blayde  REP
Switch Blayde

@Baltimore Rogers

I think I'm done trying to figure out why you singled me out for this dubious distinction.


Ok, I think I understand now. I wasn't singling you out.

awnlee brought up outlining. If you do a detailed outline, you should know how many chapters you will have in your WIP. Then you said:

It also keeps me from leaving the story hanging,


I was still thinking "outlining" and thought you were saying that if someone outlines they don't "leave the story hanging" meaning they don't know how to finish it. I now know you meant stop posting the rest of the story.

So I was addressing finishing a story while you were talking about finish posting a story. Sorry for the confusion.

Crumbly Writer

@StarFleet Carl

Sorry, that's not a story going in different directions, that's an author not willing to let a best-selling story die out. After all, who's stupid enough to kill their golden goose.

She was supposed to die, and then her kids would carry on the tradition.

Like many here, I write to the ending. I.don't always know the specifics, but I generally know how it's supposed to end. And while I've killed off several characters, I've never avoided any character's predestined fate!

Chances are, she either wrote a badly-received first draft, or trusted confidants told her 'don't you dare do it!'

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@Crumbly Writer

Chances are, she either wrote a badly-received first draft, or trusted confidants told her 'don't you dare do it!'


Sorry, CW, I had to laugh a little at this one. SHE didn't write it.

David Weber is the author. Honor Harrington is the main character in what it called the Honorverse.

However, if you want to read a LOT of good, albeit at times rather expository, science fiction, there's you a few books.

REP

@Baltimore Rogers

Question in context: Do you, as an author, like Banadin, know how many chapters there will be in an ongoing story before you finish posting them?


PotomacBob's question was:

who knows in advance how many chapters a story will end up?


The question asked is about a Work In Progress (i.e, "in advance" means - before writing the last chapter). It doesn't matter if you post as you write or if you don't post until you are finished writing. The essence of the question is: Do you know how exactly how many chapters there will be in your story before you write the last chapter?

When I write a story that will be an ongoing story, I have an idea and the basic plot; I do not outline and I do not post until the story is finished. As ideas come to me, I develop them, and integrate them into the story. So for me, the answer is NO.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

The question asked is about a Work In Progress (i.e, "in advance" means - before writing the last chapter). It doesn't matter if you post as you write or if you don't post until you are finished writing. The essence of the question is: Do you know how exactly how many chapters there will be in your story before you write the last chapter?

In my case, writing 'episodic chapters', I generally have a decent ideas of how many chapters I'll have overall (+ or - 2 or 3 chapters), but near the end (final 5 or 6 chapters) I've got a pretty exact idea of my total chapter count

Of course, adding section breaks (which often adds extra text I've got to figure out how to post on SOL) that frequently screws things up too.

richardshagrin

Just to add confusion, do chapters with letters of the alphabet count as single chapters? Example, Chapter 10A, 10B, 10C etc. Or are all these just one chapter, chapter 10?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

do chapters with letters of the alphabet count as single chapters? Example, Chapter 10A, 10B, 10C etc. Or are all these just one chapter, chapter 10?


In SOL terms, they're separate chapters. But their logical meaning is known only to the author. They might have wanted a single chapter 10 but split it into logical units to avoid SOL's splitting algorithm (which nowadays is pretty good.) And I'm sure I've seen A and B versions of chapters where A is unexpurgated but B has the explicit details of eg MM fornication stripped out.

AJ

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