If you’ve been writing your book through the steps in this series, ‘How to Write a Book in 30 Days’, the chapters in your manuscript should be fleshed out and researched, each one of them complete in expressing its own complete sub-idea within the ‘big idea’ which is your book. Now it’s time to tie all of these semi-independent little stories together into the big story – your book. For a cohesive well-balanced book your chapters should be roughly the same size and style and they should fit naturally into the whole.
Size and Style
The chapters of a well balanced book should be roughly similar in size and style. I don’t mean that all chapters must have the same word count, and amount of heads and sub-heads, just that their structures should be similar – should look like parts of a whole. If most of your chapters are two pages and you’ve got one that’s forty-two pages, either you’ve got too little information in the two-page chapters or you’ve got too much in the forty-two page chapter. If some chapters are filled with sub-heads (those bold-type subtitles that begin a chapter subsection) and others don’t have any, go back to those chapters that seem to ’stick out’ as different from the rest and make adjustments. The chapters of your book should be semi-independent parts of a whole (your book) and should look to the reader to have similar size and structure.
Segues (not the two wheeled city scooter)
Segues are smooth transitions from one thing to another. In this case each chapter of your book should easily move from the preceding chapter and set up a smooth transition to the following chapter. Remember back when we talked about the logical progression of ideas that would eventually become the chapters of your book? The reason we set that up in the beginning is so that the ideas, your chapters, would naturally flow from the previous idea and into the next. An example in How to Write a Book in 30 Days is that chapter two, ‘Gather Ideas’ naturally flows into chapter three, ‘Plotting Your Course’ which shows the reader how to organize the ideas she ‘gathered’ in chapter two. Likewise, ‘Plotting Your Course’ naturally flows into, or sets up, chapter four, ‘Creating an Outline’ which shows the reader how to take the ideas she organized in chapter three and put them into a formal structure from which to flesh out her book.
How are the chapters of your book balanced? Are they close to the same size? How are they structured? Do they have a similar amount of sub-heads with similar length? Do the chapters of your book naturally flow from each preceding chapter and naturally flow into the next chapter? It’s time to take a look and fix those chapters which seem to ‘stick out.’ Remember, the chapters of your book are semi-independent parts of a whole; like siblings in a big family, each has its own personality but each fits into and resembles family traits as a whole.
*Technical note: I’ve been using Scrivener® as the writing tool to create the book ‘How to Write a Book in 30 Days.’ I’ve written each of these blog posts inside of Scrivener® as well as the PDF Outline and Chapter Sample. The more I learn how to operate within Scrivener® the most I like it. It’s easy and it keeps all of my files in one place – my book project. If you’re serious about writing for a living, I strongly suggest you try Scrivener’s free trial.