rachelcoker



Writing Q&A: Technicalities

Next round of Writing Q&A! These are mostly technical details about Interrupted and other novels.

  • How long is Interrupted?

I just had to check because I really had no idea! But it would appear that Interrupted is approximately 58,000 words. Not long at all, but it’s a YA novel, so I wanted something quick and easy to read. It’s daunting to jump into a 200,000 word book!

  • How many words, roughly, should there be per chapter?

Once again, Interrupted is a fairly short novel, so it has a smaller word count than other books. But I think my chapters are usually approximately 2,000 words long. I did hear that Chapter Two is obnoxiously long, though. I think that one’s like 8,000 words long. I didn’t mean to do that, haha! The thing is, I usually go back and add my chapter breaks after I’m finished with the whole novel. So I make mistakes sometimes and they’re not all the same exact length.

  • Do you have any tips, tricks or habits for finishing a novel?

Get published and work under a deadline. That is the absolute easiest way to make sure you finish something in time.

I’m just kidding with you, naturally. 😉 There really is no easy, foul-proof way to ensure finishing a novel. Finishing is hard work, and not everyone is motivated enough to do it. That’s just the truth.

I’ve talked about this before, but I think that the best way to get motivated to keep going in a story is to step back and remember why you started it to begin with. Think back to when this story was just so exciting to you and you couldn’t wait to start working on it! You loved everything about it—the characters, the humor, the dialog. It was your darling. But then, after a while, it got boring. You got stuck. And now, you’re unmotivated to finish it.

Don’t let that happen! Even the best of us get stuck sometimes (happens to me pretty often!), but that’s no excuse for giving up. Keep plugging along, even if it’s messy, and go back to edit later.

Once you’ve completed all the hard work and you’re ready for a good ending, step back and think a little. How should this story end? With a wedding? A graduation? A move? A surprise? Or just a simple conversation?

No pressure or anything, but it is important to have a good ending. That’s one thing I’ve always regretted about Interrupted. The ending. However, I’m always growing as an author, and figuring out new ways to end books. It’s hard, and frustrating, and not all of your readers are always going to be satisfied, but in the end you want to wrap things up neatly, and explain to your reader in a subtle way how much your main character has grown, suffered, and come out all right in the end.

  • How long do you wait before editing a book?

I always wait at least a week. Sometimes two or three weeks. It’s good to step back and forget about your story for a while. Focus on other things, and let it slip from your mind. Then, when you finally come back to work on it again, it will be like you’re reading it for the first time. You’ll have the perspective of a reader, and you’ll be able to clearly see all the flaws and problems.

One thing I’d like to suggest to you is to find someone else to help you edit your work. I’d be absolutely lost without the assistance of my agent and editor. They catch so many things that, as the author, I am blind to! You don’t need a professional, though. Just find a writer-friend, and offer to swap each other. You’ll edit her work and she’ll edit yours. In the end, you’ll both get a fresh list of ideas on how to make your books better and you’ll both have the happy satisfaction of helping out a friend!

-Rachel

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Comments

  1. * Emily says:

    Aw, this was helpful! But I always freak out on what is legal and what is not when it comes down to you being the author. What exactly do you mean by having a friend “edit” it for you and you edit her’s? If you’re the author of the book, shouldn’t you actually be the author of everything?

    And by the way, I loved the ending of Interrupted! It was my favorite part of the whole book! It was so sweet! 😀

    | Reply Posted 4 years, 12 months ago
    • * RachelC says:

      Emily, I think I should define what I meant by “editing”. Editing never means rewriting your friend’s work. None of my editors ever tell me what to write, or actually do any writing. It’s more making suggestions. What if you made this character younger? What if you cut out some of these adverbs? What if you stopped overusing the word “shouted”?
      Suggestions like those are what I call “editing”. You don’t even have to follow any of the advice if you don’t want to. And it is perfectly legal to do that to your friend’s work. Don’t worry. 🙂

      | Reply Posted 4 years, 12 months ago
      • * Emily says:

        Thanks so much! I’ve never clearly understood that sort of thing, so it’s a great help. 🙂

        Posted 4 years, 12 months ago
  2. * Hannah says:

    I know you wrote this a while ago, so I don’t really expect you to reply, Rachel, but I have a question: Do you think it’s better to write the whole novel and then put in your chapter breaks, or does it really matter? The concept is just new to me, and I kinda think I like it. Just wondering what your opinion is! :):):)
    (If anybody else wants to give their opinion, then that’s fine, too! 🙂 )

    | Reply Posted 4 years, 7 months ago


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