We don’t have COVID we cried, with relief but we did have a nasty bug. A temperature and a constant cough. Like the rest of the country, now that we are mixing again, all the bugs are having a field day. This one is in its second week and is definitely getting better but it’s a woggly line, so that some days are better than others. The problem is sometimes I felt like getting on with things and other times I simply want to lie in a heap and close my eyes. So when the publisher sent me back the manuscript and said the chapters were too long and needed sorting I did wonder whether I really cared. Actually, once I got going, it was one of those jobs that was quite satisfying, except when I really really couldn’t get the numbers to work.
Is there an optimum size for a novel? And is there an optimum size for a chapter? When I’m reading I definitely don’t like long chapters, but if they are too short then I’m inclined to read just one more and then it’s suddenly 1 am and I really should have put the book down hours ago. So yes, having an optimum length does seem to be important and also how you end them. The closing sentence needs to be an ending sentence, a mini-cliff-hanger, a piece of wisdom. Sometimes neither of those things but it just feels right. You know it when you write it!
As for the last sentence of the whole novel, now that is a whole different ball game! I agonise over it, rewrite it again and again until it feels trite, (correct word). Once that is satisfactory, and it will never be good or clever, then I have to rework the opening chapter, particularly the first page, again and again and again. So when the publisher sends back the nearly final proof and he has only reworked the opening sentences a little bit, you are heartily relieved and ready to move on to the next bit.
Of course, then there’s the front cover …