Blog Archives

And… they’re off!

Well, it took a bit longer than I’d imagined, but my submissions to literary agents are finally on their way.

Turtle hatchlings

Their whole (uncertain) life ahead of them… awww! Just like for my submissions, dangers lurk, and most will perish. Hopefully not all. (Image labelled for non-commercial reuse.)

Two by snail mail, the rest by email.

As much as I could, I’ve tried to avoid knocking myself out of the race by tripping over all those potential hurdles, giving myself the best chance (slightly better than miniscule?) that my work will be read by the right agent who will be willing to passionately champion my cause before the world’s great publishing houses… or something like that. Hey, one can hope, right?

And now comes the waiting game. Some agents say they’ll definitely answer either way, while with others, 8-12 weeks of no response means they’re not interested.

Who knows, maybe one of the agents might even pop by my blog (of course I linked to my website).

Fezzik saying, "Hello, agent."

Hello, agent.

Too… inconceivable? Oh well.

Dammit, Janet, is that clock moving slower than normal? I’m sitting right now, so it can’t be Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity being a bit overzealous with its time dilation effect.

Guess it’s just me then.

Hey, at least now I might get some reading done! There’s been way too little of that while I’ve been writing, polishing, researching agents, and fiddling with queries, synopses, and formatting sample chapters.

What will the next post be… bitter disappointment and back to the drawing board, or a spark of hope? (Imagine, if one of the agents requested a full…!) Ah, the antici…

Chapters – A to Z: C

C is for Chapters. Chapters typically divide distinct sections of a book so that words, sentences and paragraphs that belong together form a logical piece of a book. We all know what chapters are, but have you ever given much thought to how many different ways there are to use (or not use) chapters?

The grouping of pieces of a book into chapters can happen for a number of reasons, such as different points of view, different spans of time, to give the reader a natural time to take a break (or intentionally the opposite, with a mini-cliffhanger at the end of a chapter), or simply because the author wants to emphasise a change of pace, or attitude. A chapter can be a single sentence, or dozens of pages long.

There can be “special” chapters: the prologue and the epilogue to start and end a book, respectively. Often, these can be separate from the main story, or tell a piece of the story that lies outside the “normal” narrator’s knowledge, to offer the reader special insight to what’s going on.

Some authors don’t use chapters, even in rather long books. Wilbur Smith’s African-themed adventure novels come to mind: they’re usually divided into sections (separated by a row of a few asterisks) that can be any length, but no chapters. Many authors number their chapters, but some don’t. A chapter can be called simply “Chapter 5”, or it can have a heading of its own. It can be numbered or not; chapter titles can be unique or repeated. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance, uses the name of the POV (point of view) character as the chapter heading but leaves them unnumbered. Some books, especially in sci-fi, can use dates or timestamps instead of chapter names.

Some authors use simple chapter titles, some use very descriptive or poetic ones. In some cases, chapter names or numbers can even be used to give the reader meta-information of some sort. The number of chapters can be significant or completely coincidental. Wikipedia’s article on book chapters has some interesting examples of unusual numbering schemes. Robin Hobb’s Farseer and The Tawny Man trilogies use short “meta-story” excerpts describing the first-person narrator’s experiences as he is writing the main story. Her Rain Wilds Chronicles use short letters sent by bird between the world’s birdkeepers; taken together, these tell a “meta-story” of their own. Patrick Rothfuss prefixes some chapter titles with “Interlude” to emphasise that these lie outside the main story, in the “story around the story”. Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story has 26 chapters, beginning with the letters A to Z, with fancy-looking drop caps specifically designed for the book by an illustrator – how fitting is that for the A to Z Challenge?!? 😉

The Neverending Story, Chapter 3

The Neverending Story begins each of the 26 chapters with a full-page drop-cap letter of the alphabet; Chapter 3 begins with “C”

Which chaptering style do you prefer a) in books you read, and b) in your own writing? Let me know in the comments.