Rules for writing — Rule 12: End a chapter with a bang, not a whimper


Richard Bowker

My last post, on short sentences, reminded me that I haven’t been adding to my rules for writing, a somewhat randomly numbered series of guidelines that I try to follow, and you probably should too, if you’re writing mainstream novels.

The short sentence I discussed in that post came at the end of a chapter, which, as the Times article rightly pointed out, is a very good place to put a short sentence.  But what’s up with chapters?

Chapters are a nebulous concept.  If you were to ask me “How long should a chapter be?”, my response would be “I dunno.”  I don’t have a rule for that.  Sometimes you have a set piece that demands to be its own chapter, and the length is determined by the length of the set piece, but at other times you have a more or less continuous flow of action, or…

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