Like all writers, I spend a lot of time editing and rewriting. One of my “missions” has been to create shorter chapters (seldom more than 5 pages), and short paragraphs (seldom more than 3 sentences). I admit I got the idea from reading other best-selling authors (James Patterson comes to mind) whom I admired.
I feel it intensifies the action and keeps things moving. I’ve received a lot of comments from readers of my novel, Trapped, specifically about that style, all positive. It also makes it easier to put the novel down (something you should NEVER do with MY novels!) when something comes up. I’m interested in any reader’s comments about this style.
Interestingly, I just finished Nelson Demille’s fine novel, “Wild Fire.” It’s a fascinating thriller, but his chapters are long, and I found it bothersome. I feel the book would have benefited from chopping those into smaller pieces.
I’m reading another book now from a first time author where paragraphs are sometimes a half-page long. I tend to lose interest. My wife has attended many conferences and writer’s classes with me. She’s an avid reader and my severest critique, and she agrees that short is better.
Sound research into technical details is another important aspect of riveting fiction. Two doctors (both neuro-surgeons) complimented me on my accurate research on “Locked-in Syndrome.” It’s interesting that my protagonist’s condition was something I just invented over 20 years ago, that turned out to be a real syndrome.
Getting the medical details right lends to making everything more believable, and readers like that.
About the Author:
George Bernstein has a B.A. from Northwestern University, and is the ex-president of a publicly held Chicago company. He now lives in south Florida, where he divide his time among writing novels, working with wood (his 3-car garage is a cabinet shop), and punishing himself by playing golf.
George is a serious novelist, and has attended numerous writers’ conferences, and Donald Maass’ (famous author’s agent) “Break-out Novel” seminar, all aimed at improving his craft. He has worked with independent editor, Dave King (Self-Editing for Fiction Writers), who was a great help in his developing his “voice.” All the effort must have worked, since Trapped was a winner in TAG Publisher’s “Next Great American Novel” contest, ultimately published by that company. The novel has received only 5-Star reviews on Amazon.
Bernstein is also a “World Class” fly fisherman (12 World Records), and has published articles in Saltwater Sportsman magazine. He recently also self-published Toothy Critters Love Flies, the who-what-where on fly-fishing for pike & musky, which has received excellent reviews.