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Methods to Writing a Longer Work

To write something as extensive as a book, which would arguably be something longer than 20,000 words (novella length), the writer must have some sort of methodology. When I began writing, I realized that there must be some innate structure to the piece that is written. If you read most books, you will realize that a great many have a definitive structure concerning length of chapters, length of parts, sometimes even down to the number of characters on a page. Forming some sort of methodology to writing not only helps the reader, but it also aids you, the writer, in consistency.

When I write something like a book, I follow a very simple structure for how I do so. Chapters are definitively 3,500 - 6,000 words, preferably on the upward bound of that. This may seem like a rather large gap between my smallest chapter and my largest chapter, however, it allows enough variety in chapter length without becoming terribly inconsistent (ie: more than 2x as long as another). Furthermore, and more importantly than chapter length, is section length within chapters. Each of these sections, marked by some sort of designating factor (line break or *** or etc), are approximately 900 - 1,500 words in length. This structure maintains a relatively consistent length in story arcs, without burning myself out on a specific arc or perspective. Naturally however, these rules are flexible to the will of the story.

Below, I will demonstrate this method:

A = Section of John's perspective

B = Section of Kane's perspective

C = Section of General Albinhelm's perspective

Chapter 1 = 4,600 words

A = 1500 words

B = 1200 words

A = 900 words

C = 1,000 words

Chapter 2 and so forth will follow

With John being the main protagonist, he gets slightly more screen time than the others.


When it comes to my serial publications where each episode is a chapter, I'm somewhat more relaxed on my design. Chapters here are short; they don't need to be long (although they certainly can be). When I wrote The Ring: Season 1 with Mr. James Donson, I made each episode about 2,000 words. That left me with about fourteen 2,000 word chapters. Since the product was published on #Kindlevella (a brilliant platform), each episode cost readers 20 credits, give or take one.

In some ways, serial publications can be easier to organize because each episode possesses its own arc or objective that it seeks to meet. Multiple episodes can work together to fulfill an objective, but the episodes also act independently to some extent. While working on The Reunification War, I made episodes shorter, only about 1,000 words, and fulfilled a very specific goal in that short period of writing.

I hope this gives you some type of outlook on my writing process and may even help your devise your own. I think that dividing these sections and chapters off into specific lengths can help you tremendously in finding that motivation to write. Filling that 1,100 word gap as opposed to a 60,000 word gap is psychologically easier and more appealing. See an podcast done on motivation with information provided by Dr. Tracy McDonough here!

Surely you can develop more structures that work for you, but this very simple method has worked well for me!


Thanks for your time,

Noah Douglas, Author

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