Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Short & Sweet: The Reason for my "Dan Brown" Chapters

Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and The Lost Symbol, among others, is known for his very, very short chapters. Sometimes a Dan Brown chapter can last all of two paragraphs. 

When I first set out to write The von Strassenberg Saga it wasn't my intent to copy the style of Dan Brown. I didn't even realize I was writing "Dan Brown chapters" until someone else (my sister), pointed it out. 

As with everything in my writing, I let the story dictate the telling. If that makes sense. Yes. Conventional chapters are at least ten pages long, usually longer. Do I care? Not at all. I'm not going to drag out a scene and slow things down just to meet the standard idea of what a chapter should be. For me, it is all about the pacing, about the natural break in a story, about leaving the reader with just enough to drive them through the next chapter so they can find out what happens next. (You have to keep in mind, Filter follows two storylines. Chapters often switch between the historical and the contemporary heroines, each fighting their own battles.)

The structure of Filter probably has a lot to do with my training in college. I studied video (filming and editing) and we are trained to never let a scene or a shot go on for too long. Otherwise you will diminish the emotional impact. It probably also has something to do with the fact that for the ten years I wasn't writing novels I was writing screenplays. Mostly just for fun but also because it was the only way my creative brain would function for a long time. I wrote Filter as I saw played out in my head. It wasn't about the words, necessarily, it was about how the scene played out in my head (it was often like a music video in my head! lol Fire and swooshing skirts and the flash of firelight on the muzzle of a revolver, that kind of thing). I am a very visual writer and don't see the necessity of getting bogged down in words just because they sound cool.

It's all about the pacing, the action, the hills and the valleys. When I make a video, even if it's only two minutes long, I want to warm people's hearts and then move them to tears and fits of anger. 

So yes. As my cousin and her friends have said, I write chapters perfect for the ADHD crowd. It wasn't really planned that way, it was just the natural progression of the story.

So. I just spent an insane amount of money that I don't have so that I could have my ear infection confirmed and get some antibiotics for it. This is not a good time of year for such things. The holidays are tough as it is. For this reason, I have lowered the price of Filter: Book One of The von Strassenberg, for Kindle and Nook (and Amazon lowered the paperback price to $11.11 to match B&N's price!). Through December 31st you can buy the Nook or Kindle version for only 99 cents! So get it cheap while you can!

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