The Writer’s Favorite Book…

Hi Jim,
I was wondering. You’ve posted a lot about writing and how to make a good story. You’ve also mentioned that you have a tough time reading other people’s stories, hence why you wrote your own. I was just wondering, what is your favorite story?
Best,
Cheri

Hi Cheri,

Thanks for following my work! I’ll admit that my library read books has increased exponentially since the advent of audible. I’m admittedly a much faster writer than I am a reader… if that even makes sense.

To answer your question though, my absolute favorite story is a fairly old novella that I’d read in High School for summer reading credit.

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Strange Highways by Dean Koontz.

I’ll admit that the man’s writing has gone… in rather odd directions recently and the religious undertones are far more glaring, but this was back during some of his best writing. This book, which thanks to a Christmas present from my wife I now own a signed limited first edition of, is actually a collection of short stories. The first story in the book is the novella for which the collection is titled: Strange Highways.

I’m rarely on the edge of my seat when it comes to a book, so it should come as a rather big surprise when I say that this book had me on the edge more than any movie I’ve ever seen.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The novella is about an alcoholic loser of a writer named Joey Shannon. He returns to his hometown, which is a former coal town that has become a ghost town as it is slowly emptied of people by the federal government when thousands of acres of burning coal beneath it threatened to collapse and turn everyone to cinders.

Joey inexplicably finds himself at a crossroad from many years earlier. He can be redeemed from his alcoholism if he takes the tougher road and manages to save Celeste Baker from murder by his psychopathic brother, P.J.
Joey is thrust back in time again and again in replays of the same scene when he fails to stop his brother before the power to believe gives him the needed strength.

The book has gotten mixed reviews, but manages to maintain a 3.8 rating on Goodreads. There is quite a lot that you have to take for granted in the book and I’ll be the first to admit, that it’s far from perfect, but I’ve read it five times and am on my sixth read as we speak. I love this book, especially the ending and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers dealing with the dark side of religion, but has a greatly satisfying ending.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Non-Written Not-Rule on Paragraph Length

I wanted to ask you about chapters. I’m heavily into the re-write of mine. I’ve been putting a lot more detail which means some of my chapters have become a lot bigger. In your view what’s the maximum word count for a chapter? Is it okay to have a 3k or even 5k one if it works?

Hi Eric,

There really is no right or wrong answer here. My chapters often range from 1100 to 6700 words. As long as you’re in the same place, in the same character’s perspective, there is no reason to end a chapter. Chapter breaks for me are most appropriate for the passage of time (say a few minutes/hours), during a major perspective change (a character POV who isn’t in the same vicinity), or a change of scenery. Even just walking into another room can justify a chapter change.
Well say I’m writing a story that is completely linear, stays with one character’s perspective, and remains in the same room the entire time? 
Sigh… okay, in this increasingly hypothetical situation, I’d say that a chapter break would need to happen when the character’s attention is drawn to something new or… something changes in the room.
As I said above, there is no exact science. How or when you decide to end a chapter will be dictated more by your own style of writing and inclination than it will any written rule or any advice I could give you. I try to look at a chapter as its own individual thought, problem, or scene.
There are many out there  who would say that the length of a chapter should be more decided by the length of a book. (a 55,000 word book should have 5,000 word chapters), in other words, split up the book into 10 chapters, each one containing a tenth of the total word count. I don’t subscribe to this as I find it far too rigid.
In the end, it’s really up to you. If you feel like a chapter is starting to drone on, then find a place where the attention is broken or the scene changes in someway and insert a chapter break. It’s more of a judgement call than anything else.
So, sorry that I can’t give you a definitive answer, but honestly that’s because there isn’t really one. I do hope that this helps in some way.
Readers, what do you think? Are there certain chapter structures that you live by when writing? Let Eric know in the comments .

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim