The Under Ground Writing Project

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Ten is the Magic Number

Posted by Ali on August 15, 2012 at 8:45 AM

For some reason, I have a propensity for ten page chapters.  I work on a rough draft and as I type, I write out the arc of the chapter, bring it to a close, and notice the page count.  I am remarkably consistent.  10 pages, 9 pages, 11 pages, 10...


I have been working on revising a novel to submit to the gang, in full, at the end of the month.  So far, my revision has included about three new, from-scratch chapters as I rearrange events and completely change how certain events get conveyed.  Guess how long my new chapters have been?


Today, I ended up working on a chapter away from my home computer.  Since I didn't have my file with me, I finished the chapter on a new file.  I didn't remember how many pages I had already, so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to break my pattern.  In the new file, I changed the spacing from double to single in an effort to help me write a longer chapter by skewing the visual cue of how much text fit on a page.  Then, I focused on writing a chapter that was as fleshed out and developed as possible.  I finished the chapter all in single spaced font and felt very pleased with myself because I felt I had stretched my length.


I got home and copied/pasted the new file into the master file.  I adjusted the spacing to make everything consistent.  Then I looked at page count.  Yep, you guessed it, 10.  Weird.


What patterns have  you noticed about your writing?  What comes out consistently and subconsciously?  Have you ever been able to break your pattern?

Categories: Writing Process, Submissions, Patterns

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Reply Oliver
1:32 PM on August 15, 2012 
Fifteen page short stories, probably. Not sure why. There have been times when I've really wanted to write a story shorter than fifteen pages, so I kept my language extra tight, I left out a lot of what seemed squablous bellyaching, tried to streamline the whole thing. I aimed for six, arrived at fifteen. Other times I've expected a story to run twenty or thirty pages, assumed I could ease through and take my time, and did just that--honeying my words and lollygagging about with "cuteness." Those stories often came out around fifteen pages too. First drafts, anyway. It's been a peculiar thing.

I have the same thing with novel chapters, just twenty instead of fifteen.
Reply Jenny Maloney
2:23 PM on August 15, 2012 
It really depends on the work in progress for me. Right now, I'm running a low count - something like five pages. But for others my chapters are long...however it's always consistant to the piece.

Do you think maybe this phenomenon is just because we hit the story's rhythm?

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