Something I’ve noticed in the long-form fiction I’ve been writing lately is that my stories do not fall readily into the traditional chapter breaks one might normally expect in genre fiction. Maybe it’s all the lit-fic I’ve read over the years, but I find what works best for me, structurally, is something akin to what Roberto Bolaño did with 2666, which is to break the story up into large sections which themselves are broken into much smaller pieces (generally 500-2500 words, at least in my case), which flow more or less continuously on into one another.
As a reader, I like books that are structured that way, because I generally only like to stop at a good stopping point, and I don’t always have time to finish the chapter (especially lately). As a writer, I find that the rhythm of my storytelling just kind of naturally falls into that kind of structure. It’s not intentional on my part, at least not consciously.
But I have become more conscious of it with The Victorius Revolution. Being that there are a couple of people reading it as I write it, I’m finding that my natural tendency is even more pronounced, and that the story is coming out as a series of small episodes, each of which comprises a single scene or other discrete chunk, and each of which ends with some kind of coda or cliff-hanger, hopefully leaving my readers wanting more.
Maybe if any of them read this, they’ll let me know if that’s the case.
The one other thing I think will turn out to be advantageous about this kind of structure is that I think it will mesh well with the e-pub reading experience that seems to be subsuming the traditional bound-book reading experience. I think with the different text-flow that the medium partakes in, a series of small episodes might be just the thing.
What do you think?