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Chapters by Day

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by MystiqueRain, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. MystiqueRain

    MystiqueRain Troubadour

    How do you feel about separating chapters by days? Like, it starts with the morning and ends at night? Right now this is the format of my book, but sometimes I find that it doesn't fit very well. However, it would be a lot of work to change it. What's your opinion on it?
  2. Agran Velion

    Agran Velion Minstrel

    I don't think I would have a problem with it, although I can say I haven't encountered something like it before. Although if it's a problem for you writing and isn't the right fit, I think it would be best to remove it.
  3. Weaver

    Weaver Sage

    My twin tried this with one of his earlier novels, and found that the biggest drawback to one-chapter-a-day is that, to make it work, you must have enough happen every day in your story to fill a chapter. There's no option to skip ahead past a couple of slow days, or take more time on a day that has more happening than would fit comfortably in a single chapter.

    If something isn't working for your story, don't keep it just because fixing it would be more work.
  4. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

    It could work depending on what you're doing and how you're doing it, but I wouldn't limit myself like that. If I were going to use morning and night as themes to tell the story, I'd use them to encapsulate my rising/falling actions and just have the scenes begin at morning/end at night, without formalizing them.
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    My chapters in my WIP list the days, but a lot of the chapters take place on the same day. I may have seven chapters all take place in one day. I always have trouble with day and night in my novels. I just don't fit them in as well as I could. I should probably use weather more frequently as well.

    In any case, I think using days for chapters can work, but like Weaver said you need to have enough happening each day to warrant that. You could always skip days if you need to.
  6. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I've read Detective Fiction written in days or most accurately periods being awake. That worked very well. Some of the days lasted longer than others [one "day" ended with breakfast the next morning] but the format was Monday, Tuesday etc... In the book Sundays were ignored - the detective visited their mother - I remember...
  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    It can also lead to switching POVs and places a lot, which can leave your piece feeling disjointed and choppy if you don't do it well.
  8. MystiqueRain

    MystiqueRain Troubadour

    It's manageable right now, though sometimes some chapters are better left cut in the middle. What gets me the most is that one chapter can be a couple of pages while the next one is ridiculously long because of what happens that day. >.>
  9. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    I don't really like the idea of restricting your writing to particular time periods. It would make the writing / plotting forced, as in you'd have to make sure that every day something happened, and at the same time not too much. That's probably one of my biggest criticisms of 24. By writing epps in one hour segments, they had to start taking liberties with the plots. Driving times had to be truncated massively in places, and all the way through you sit there and think, this should take longer, or this should be quicker.

    Granted they clearly have brilliant writers who can find work arounds, but my thought would be, if you don't have to why bother? What's this going to net you that's going to outweigh the trade-offs you're going to have to make?

    Cheers, Greg.
  10. srcroft

    srcroft Minstrel

    Doing it by day is not a good idea. You end up adding in things because it happened in that day or you want to keep this feeling that a day passed. In fact 10 of my chapters is in 2 days.

    Think of your book like a "Movie", how does a movie handle transitions. REMOVE the word chapter and put SCENE. Now write scenes, when you swap views, and a conflict, or have a new situation; its a new scene. In the end your scenes will be your chapters.

    Don't worry about how it breaks down until your done a draft. It'll help. Also scenes are modular. You can move them around, or remove or work on them easier without feeling like--oh no I'm attacking a chapter or a whole day.

    Rule #1 If you don't find it exciting and interesting--don't put it in.
  11. MariMidnight

    MariMidnight Dreamer

    That might get a bit boring after a while. That said, my current project, I'm using a "diary" format. The story takes place over a year, and realistically, I can't write about every single day or every single thing that happens in a given day. Days are going to be skipped. Weeks are going to be skipped. As far as I understand, the thing to do is to stick with what's absolutely the most important and run with that.
  12. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

    I don't see why it would be a problem. As long as the main conflict isn't solved early on and each day has its own set of problems–its own suspense–splitting chapters by day could be fine. (Provided the story is kept in mind at all times.)

    I do have a couple of concerns. Is it necessary to end at night or was that for convenience? Stopping at night every time might lead to chapters winding down at the end. Resolving a day's problems before nightfall and starting anew in the morning seems like a tempting pattern to fall into while writing the book, but that makes the book less riveting. Making each chapter mirror the others is another trap. The amount of things that happen each day, the importance of those things, and the number of people involved won't be spread evenly chapter to chapter. The events don't need to be symmetrical. Every day isn't the same.

    I think separating chapters into days would be a fun idea if the plot is time-sensitive. I could see it working well in a book where characters struggle to achieve a goal in a certain time frame while dealing with multiple problems.

    I'd keep an eye on those sections where it didn't fit as easily. The day/chapter element might stifle the natural movement of the scenes if you're not careful. Forcing the format wouldn't do the story any good. You'd also have to make sure changes that happen from one day to another are reasonable. Character growth shouldn't seem unbelievable given the amount of time that has passed. On the other end of the spectrum, things shouldn't happen too slowly to fill out a chapter.
  13. pskelding

    pskelding Troubadour

    I don't think it's a good idea either. I read about 1 or 2 thrillers a month between fantasy and historical novels and I've yet to see a thriller done in this way. I think it would detract from tension building. There's a reason most chapters are just numbered and not titled using times.

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