Chapters, I mean?
I overheard (ahem – perhaps listened in) on a few discussions about whether or not an author should write short chapters, long chapters, chapters the same size, or varied… I couldn’t believe the amount of time people were putting into something that to me, just naturally happened. You wrote to the end of the scene, and then moved on to the next chapter, right?
Honestly, I think the reason why I had never thought about it before was because I’d never read anyone that really gave a rip. Well, that was noticeable in their writing, anyway. Until I read Worldshaker this week. The chapters are SHORT, concise, and never extend beyond a half a page from the uniform chapter size. I was amazed.
As a reader, the upside to this was it gave it the feeling of moving on even when the storyline wasn’t. The cadence of the beats had me feeling like we were running most of the time, especially when everything was coming to a head at the end. The downside was in an effort to stay within the prescribed format, there were a lot of things dropped that I would have preferred to have seen fleshed out. When the book ended, I felt unsatisfied. Such as, were there ghost on the burial levels, or was Riff just superstitious? And, did Col get an annulment when all was said and done, or was he still married? Most of all, there were some principles touched upon that I felt needed more in depth exploration that if I I hadn’t been an adult I would have missed. The fact that Col IS the one in charge, and that all he brings to the table IS ethics, is HUGE. And it’s just barely grazed.
I get that it’s a boy book and I get that we’re telling a story, not having a discussion. However, the fact remains that perhaps a bit more detail, a bit more dialogue, or a bit more of the story could have changed all that for me as a reader. Except then it would have ruined the brilliance of the formatted chapters. I guess the real question for me is not short or long, but do I leave the reader satisfied? Is the format worth dropping world and character development?
For me, the answer is no.