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STAY UP or PUT IT DOWN?Check Your Chapter Breaks


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#1 RSMellette

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 06:40 PM

You know the feeling. You're reading a good book, but you're also falling asleep. You flip ahead... a page and a half until the end of the chapter. You can do that, then get to sleep. Then, damn! The author hooks you into reading the next chapter - even though you don't have the energy.

So, here's the game. Read the last couple of paragraphs of a chapter, and tell us if you'd STAY UP and keep reading, or PUT IT DOWN and get to sleep. Then, post a couple of paragraphs of a chapter break you'd like feedback on.

Let's start - from BILLY BOBBLE HAS A MAGIC WAND

"Yes, yes, yes," said the hyper one again. "That's what they want. That's what they need, boy."

"We need you to break the connection," said the old one. "We need you to set us free."

"Set us free," said a couple of the gathering patients.

"That's what they want, boy," the old guy seemed to be leading the show now. "That's what they need. They need you to break the connection. Give them access."

"Break the connection and all things are possible," said hyper boy. "Break the connection and all things are possible."

While the rest of the ward pressed in on us like bad zombies, the old guy turned to me and whispered, "He's going to need your help."

#2 Caterina

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 07:31 PM

EDITED VERSION BELOW, from the suggestions of RS. thanks!

I would STAY UP and keep reading. It sounds really interesting, want to know how he's going to break the connection, or what the connection even is.

Here's mine, ZOMBIE WHISPERER



“Stop! Please stop!” The sky overhead turned dark and cloudy. The grass under my feet changed from green and fresh to black and brittle. The wind became horribly icy, making me freeze.

All the sudden, people popped up in front of me. There were several of them and their clothes looked ripped and bloody. Their eyes were lifeless, and flesh dripped from their mouths.

They were zombies.

They saw me and growled, running towards me. I ran to get away from the nightmare my dream had become.

Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen.

“No! Stop!” I screamed, running as fast as I could to get away from the zombies, but my legs felt like they were made of rubber. Every step was like running through molasses, and they were getting closer the slower I ran. I screamed again when I felt hands grab me from behind.

#3 RSMellette

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 07:40 PM

I'm willing to go another page or two, but check your passive verbs.

"Their eyes were lifeless and flesh was dripping from their mouths."

compared to "Their eyes were lifeless, and flesh dripped from their mouths." or "Their eyes had no life. Flesh dripped from their mouths."

Also you have a big echo on "zombie."

#4 Lanette Kauten

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:33 PM

RS, I would put it down and go to sleep. It's not your writing, but MG rarely thrill me.

Caterina, I agree with RS. It's fun and exciting, but it could use some tightening up as he suggested.

Here's mine from HOUSE OF THISTLES:

“He’s got a gun,” Lexie yelled.

I pushed myself off the floor and staggered over to Harley, but I was too slow. Michael grabbed her, and my fight response kicked in. Harley kicked and clawed, but Michael held on. I grabbed the hand he held around her waist, but he shoved his gun against my temple. Lexie whimpered in the corner.

Steven barred the front door with his phone in his hand, but he stepped aside when the gun was raised to my head. I watched as Michael walked out the door with my last bastion of sanity.

#5 Caterina

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:11 PM

Lanette. I would STAY UP to find out what happens next. Although there are some glitches i would fix. Like, “He’s got a gun,” Lexie yelled. I would put - “He’s got a gun!” Lexie yelled. Other than that, brilliant.

Am I allowed to put another part from a separate book I wrote? =)

#6 Lanette Kauten

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:17 PM

Go for it, Caterina. Your writing is fun.

#7 Caterina

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:26 PM

Lanette - thanks!

Here goes! book #2 in zombie trilogy - BIOHAZARD TATTOO


At eighteen, people were given a longer curfew. They were allowed to get married, smoke cigarettes and join the army. Today, Lucien should have felt happy because he was considered an adult, responsible for his own actions.

Staring at his tattoo, Lucien didn’t feel happy, he felt pain. Pain because his family was put through the horrors of being branded an infectious human being. Pain because he couldn’t visit his cousins in the virus-free zone in Texas ever again. And pain because he would never be able to pursue a career in science as decreed by the Infectus Law.

He wanted change; he wanted to be free. But most of all, he wanted revenge.

#8 RSMellette

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 01:35 AM

No worries, Lanette, I was thinking the same thing about your stuff on Hooked or Not Hooked - just not my genre. :)

Having said that, I noticed "kick" in yours echoing close together - plus you have a ton of people and business in this. Hard to place who is where, doing what. In cases like that I've learned that less specifics can paint a clearer picture. Something like: Before I knew what happened, Michael had Harley in a bear hug and a gun to my head.

... or not.

CT haven't gotten to yours yet, it's late.

#9 Lanette Kauten

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:06 AM

Thanks, RS. That helps.

CT, it was intriguing, but it was all tell. This could be so much stronger written from a closer 3rd POV. It also sounded like it was a re-cap of things the readers already know. It may not be, but that's how it read. There was one thing that pulled me out and it was this, "Pain because his family was put through the horrors of being branded an infectious human being." How can the family be branded as an infectious human?

#10 RC Lewis

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 02:54 PM

RS, I'd STAY UP. It's got that building tension, then the sudden shift to the old guy's whisper at the end rounds it off in a way that makes me want to transition to the next page.

Cati #1: I'd PUT IT DOWN, but it's pretty close. It's a classic "cliffhanger" to break a chapter on, but the structure is a little off. You want that feeling like you're watching your favorite TV show, and everything's coming to a head and then ... TO BE CONTINUED. Instead, the structure made me feel like you'd just cut off in the middle of the scene. It could be helped by something as simple as putting the final sentence in its own paragraph. You can also up the tension by breaking up those compound sentences you've got in the last paragraph.

Lanette: If I were reading the whole book, I'd probably STAY UP. It's a hard one for a game like this, because you have so many characters in that scene. I imagine it's not so bad if I'm actually reading the story and have gradually been introduced to them and their situations.

Cati #2: What Lanette said. A little too telling, a little too "here, let me educate you, reader," but the concept of him wanting revenge is a good one to end a chapter on. I just think it needs a bit more of a "sinker" of a last sentence to really grip me into the next chapter.

*going to hunt through my mss and decide what to post*
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#11 RC Lewis

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 02:59 PM

Okay, here's one from early in SIGNIFICANTLY OTHER:

I twitch slightly at the unexpected sensation of his breath tickling my ear. Then he wraps an arm around my back, holding me in place just a second longer, and whispers one more thing.

“I wasn’t teasing when I said you’re beautiful.”

Before I can process that, he walks away. After a moment of shock, I turn and start walking as well, but I don’t register anything I see between the park and home. I don’t understand why he said that—why he would even think that. It doesn’t make any sense.

I’m still preoccupied when I get to the front door, which explains why I don’t realize Chi isn’t alone.

“Ziv, we have a guest.”
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#12 Lanette Kauten

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 03:15 PM

RC, I'd stay up. If I had been reading this from the beginning, I would be invested in Ziv and would want to know who her guest is.

#13 Michael Steven

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:31 PM

X
Let there be light on this planet ... And let it shine through me
Let there be travellers who venture ... Far from the beaten path
And let one of them be me - Jefferson Starship - Champion (unused lyrics)

#14 Jennie

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:32 PM

RS - I'd stay up, assuming that the connection has been established as a big, cool thing.

Caterina - I'd put it down, for the reasons already listed.

Lanette - I'm kind of torn. I like the writing, but it actually feels like a good place to stop for me. So I wouldn't be putting it down because it's bad. The whole "last bastion of sanity" line feels like a natural close. So maybe it's a toss up.

RC - I'd stay up, but more so because the lead up is really interesting. I don't really know much about Ziv because I haven't read your story, but that description of the arm around the shoulders is so dead on for a crush. Haha. I'm more interested in seeing that play out than finding out about her guest.

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#15 Jennie

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:35 PM

Here's mine. I still haven't titled it. It's not letting me fix the formatting - sorry!


A burning sensation seized her throat. Atarette grabbed the railing and vomited over the side, watching her lunch tumble down into the clouds.

The ship picked up speed and carried her further and higher. As she ascended, she got a bird’s eye view of Everdawn. The mysterious blue flames covered the entire eastern side of the island. They had overtaken the harbor and about half of the city.

Thick clouds - thicker than any she had ever seen - began forming rapidly over all of Everdawn’s surface. The temperature around her dropped until she shook uncontrollably. She wanted so badly to find a cloak or blanket, but she had to keep her eyes on Everdawn for as long as she could.

The shroud of clouds stayed put, blocking any final glimpse or chance to say farewell, and the ship carried her further and further until her home was swallowed up by the horizon.

Darkness surrounded her. She was all alone.

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#16 RC Lewis

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:48 PM

Michael, interesting, I get kind of the feeling you described about Caterina's second ... that I'd put it down because it's a good place for a break. Like, "Okay, next time I pick it up, we'll figure out how/if he's going to find that skorchan."

Grammar nit while I'm here: Pray you have told everything accurately and true or your life, along with every one of your family and friends, is forfeit. Seems like it needs to be either "along with that/those of every one of your..." or "every one of your family's and friends'" (although that second one is yucky and awkward ...)

Jennie, funny that you had that reaction to mine, because it kind of fits. It's very "Ziv's life gets complicated in a normal way, and immediately gets even more complicated in a very NOT normal way." That regular-life/not-regular-life tension is a key part of the story.

For yours, I think I'd at least peek at the start of the next chapter to have a hint of what happened next. And if the start of the next chapter had a strong hook, too, so much for bedtime. :smile:
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#17 RSMellette

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:00 PM

that I'd put it down because it's a good place for a break. Like, "Okay, next time I pick it up, we'll figure out how/if he's going to find that skorchan."


I do that sometimes.

Every now and then I feel like I'm a boxer and my reader is my oppenant. Right from the first bell, I make sure I get in a couple of quick jabs - let him know I've got skills. Then it's jab-jab, power punch, jab-jab. The end of each chapter is usually a killer power punch - but every now and then, when I know I've beaten my reader silly, I'll end the round with a pat on the head. "Go sit down. You need the rest. I'll be here when you get back."

#18 RC Lewis

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:48 PM

Okay, here's another one, this time from the WIP (Stitching Snow):

He was young, just around my age.

It didn’t make sense. Shuttle pilots were usually cantankerous and old, especially the types that traveled alone. Even they never bothered coming to Thanda unless it was to the Bands.

He was also beautiful, in a way that made me take an instinctive step back. Golden skin that obviously saw more sun in a day than we saw in a whole year, strong cheekbones and jaw like an artist had drawn him, and brown hair with just the slightest curl. The only thing marring the perfection was a bloody gash on his forehead.

I couldn’t breathe. He was terrifying.

One of the drones swore, unfreezing me.

“You said it, Cusser. Let’s see if we can rig a stretcher and get him back to the shop.”
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#19 Caterina

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:26 PM

RC - I would PUT IT DOWN, mostly because I feel super lost. Thanda and Bands are unknown words to me unless I've read your book. although the one thing that drew me in was the 'bloody gash on his forehead.' and 'I couldn't breathe. he was terrifying.'

Jenni - I would PUT IT DOWN because it seems like a quiet scene, like if i were reading it before bed I would fall asleep. Clouds are peaceful and being alone is quiet. Something needs to be loud for me to stay awake and keep going.

Are we supposed to keep picking different books? Or can we do a different chapter? Just in case, here's another one from Biohazard Tattoo:



My body wanted me to keep running, the effects of the drug completely gone. I didn’t want to end up back in Harry’s apartment. I wanted to be home with my family, safe in Gerald’s arms. My tears continued to spill down my face and the wind from outside chilled the sweat on my skin. No one was out here at this time except for a few bums hanging around the industrial sized trash containers. I ran into the street hoping to figure out a place to hide when a car came out of nowhere and slammed into me.

#20 Michael Steven

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:09 PM

Are we supposed to keep picking different books? Or can we do a different chapter?


RSMellette will give the definitive answer, but I think we can choose entries from the same book. It would make sense :smile:
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And let one of them be me - Jefferson Starship - Champion (unused lyrics)




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