The conundrum of dividing chapters

Or “At least I didn’t just name this post ‘The chapter conundrum,’ despite my love of all things alliterative (oh god, I did it again)”.

There are plenty of elements to writing that could potentially bug the shit out of me, but only one particular thing consistently irks me. Dialog is easy enough, in a pinch, in terms of making sure characters don’t all sound the same (and in the event little bits of the narrator’s voice bleeds through, there’s always editing to fix that). World-building is time-consuming, and can be a tough, but necessary, evil.

I absolutely hate coming up with the right places to start and end chapters, because I almost never feel like they’re organic (and when I do, it’s because I’ve managed to set up a system of “oh-no-what-now? cliffhangers to be directly followed by the starting point of the previous problem’s resolution). Let’s just get this out of the way now: I’ve started drafting another novel idea I had some time ago (tentatively titled The Devil Made Me Do It), before Joshua’s Nightmares even crept into the creative areas of my brain (the existence of which can be debated, of course), and I find myself butting heads with the very issue of wanting to shift the focus of the story ever so slightly, but not enough that I feel like it’ constitutes a chapter change. This is how I’m choosing to occupy my time between short stories (or, more likely, punctuated by short stories as I work on this) while I wait for the last bits of critiquing to wrap up on Joshua’s Nightmares. 

Did I mention it’s only two pages and a paragraph into the story? Because that’s certainly a factor in all of this. Also, I suppose it couldn’t hurt to add a page to the top of Misadventures in Fiction to offer a synopsis of The Devil Made Me Do It.

The story begins focusing on the main character going through his morning routine, focusing on certain aspects of it being entirely unremarkable. I want to shift to another character (consider the title) and focus on his typical morning. The two narratives eventually come together, of course, but I’m really fighting myself on if I want to have a two-page-and-a-paragraph first chapter or not, and how to properly handle this situation. What similar issues do you, fellow writers, run into?

If nothing else, this post should confirm something I already knew: I have a serious writing addiction, and I’m completely okay with that.

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