Mile Posts Along the Way




Even the best books can seem unending unless they are broken up somehow so that there are little mile posts along the way…

We have talked before about separating our stories into chapters of varying lengths, with 20 pages being about average. Giving them titles is not necessary, but if done cleverly, they can add an element of interest.

We’ve reviewed Prologues (pre-stories telling about past events that are necessarily revealed in order to understand the present book); Epilogues (more rarely used than Prologues) that add something to the story or are used to segue into the next book in a series.

Let’s touch on the question of dividing a story into “PARTS.” 

In my reading, I have found that these designations can be used to divide radically different sections of a book and/or sudden changes in time, place, or narrators. For instance, The Early Years, Middle Years, Later Years; London, New York, The Bahamas; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter; and so on. 

If you are writing an extremely long story, you may want to consider dividing your book into parts. You may also consider shortening it by making it a book in a series.

I got my idea for the Simon Says series from readers who wanted more about their favorite characters. So, each of the main characters is the focus of a book and each book is named after a children’s game: Simon Says (the original book) is the story of Marcus; Truth or Dare is actually Simon’s story; Tug of War has Ed as its main character; and Cat’s Cradle will be Mary’s (sometime in 2021).

If you are aware of other ways to divide stories, please share!


When Divisions Can Make Perfect Sense


Last week, I read a book that was divided into three “parts.” I toyed with the possibility of doing this with my latest book.

It wasn’t too late. I was still on the final edit.

I asked myself what would be the reasoning behind dividing my book into parts and just what were the “rules” for doing so?

Here’s what my research showed:

Authors often divide their books into parts to show a natural shift in the story. For example, two people may be separated by a disaster in Part One, and then they may be reunited in Part Three.

Most authors use a three act division to shows where there is a natural divide in the story.

A part change may also show readers where they can stop for awhile, and pick back up later.

If a book spans a period of many years, imposing a structure by dividing it into several sections helps indicate the passage of time.

Simon and Marcus have known each other for almost twenty years. Dividing my book into parts will not only show the passage of time, but also how their relationship has changed from Chapter One through Chapter Twenty.

Divisions makes sense in this case.

Test it out. If your book takes place over a span of time, the story has natural shifts, or you think your readers would appreciate pauses between particularly tense action, dividing your book into “Parts” may be a good choice for you, too.