The Ashes of Home is into its final rounds of reading and editing. I’m at the stage where I’m kinda thinking how many more times do I have to read this thing? Let’s just get it off to the book designer!
However, my pre-publishing process this time around included a new step that I’ve not gone through before - and almost forgot about in the excitement! Inserting chapter breaks.
I’ve talked about this approach a couple of times before, where I’ve written the draft as a series of scenes without bothering too much how to break it up into chapters. It certainly paid dividends during rounds of edits where I’ve been able to easily move things around and even insert whole new threads.
Now I’ve got past that point, and decided the text and order was settled, it was time to break the story out into chapters. This proved an interesting exercise in its own right. I flipped back and forth between my scene summary list and the actual text, looking for suitable chapter units.
It was a bit of a back-and-forth game, trying to ensure chapters were logically coherent, and not too long or too short. There were some points where I felt a natural chapter break should occur, and I tried to work around those.
While I was drafting, I broke the text into more scenes than I strictly needed to. Anywhere there was a natural potential break, I put in a scene break. Some of these I ended up rolling together - with a regretful sigh ... yes, this would have been a great cliffhanger, but the real chapter break comes just a little later. Let’s not make it too disjointed.
While I draft, I divide the manuscript up into a dozen or so separate documents for ease of editing and navigation. I have always expected those major divisions to also signal new chapters. In this case I surprised myself a couple of times by continuing chapters from the end of one document into the next. I don’t think I’d have even considered that possibility before.
I even did a couple of last minute scene order swaps at this late stage. It’s surprising what a different perspective on things like flow you get when you take this aerial perspective.
One last thing I noticed, which I really didn’t expect, was a lot of pleasing patterns and symmetries in the point of view switches within many chapters ...