I don’t think it’s giving too much away at this point to say that Book 2: Chapter 1 currently is one big battle. I wanted to start things off with a, literal, bang However, as I near the end of the first cut of Chapter 1, it is beginning to feel very long.
A Book #2 design goal was to ease the chapter word count and total word count restrictions used for Orchids Ablaze. I wanted to give myself extra room for description since these books are basically prose comic books. Several large-scale fight scenes/battles are in the plot for Book #2 so the fact that Chapter 1 already feels like it’s lagging concerns me. I still have about 30% of the fight to go!
And that’s before I’ve added the extra description pieces…
Stronger Together or Separately
The key questions go thusly: is it a better reader experience to split Chapter 1 into sections? Let Chapter 2 (and possibly Chapter 3) be a continuation of Chapter 1?
That’s one strategy I employed with Orchids Ablaze. I also used what I call a “jump cut” method where I inserted one or more chapters into the middle of the overall fight scene. That allowed me explore the larger environment from different character perspectives and then weave the threads into one big finale.
But is that too jarring to readers? Should I write the different “set pieces” of the battle as scenes within the chapter or as chapters to themselves? Is it really a reader preference and I’m going to be wrong half the time regardless of which method I employ?
In conventional publishing I imagine editors answer all those questions, likely with vim and vigor! Self-publishing gets a little more interesting. I was incredibly fortunate to have a great editor and coach for Orchids Ablaze, but that dear lady won’t be available for the next book. There are many services out there that will review a manuscript, but they aren’t cheap, at least to me. Determining which ones are reputable is a whole ‘nother problem. Ultimately it boils down to how much a professional edit is worth to me when I’m not a professional writer (yet!).
That’s a question for another night, though.