As chapter 32 reached about 1,300 words (before editing), I ended it only sentences away from the action. The idea of ending there is to get the reader to want to move onto chapter 33. Ending a chapter is often important. A local radio personality, Bill Hoebee, once commented to me that he was up half the night because every chapter of my book left him wanting to know what happened next. Not a bad ‘on air’ comment from someone who admitted he hadn’t read a book since his college days!
It all goes back to what I mentioned earlier about the “USA Today” syndrome. People expect it short. An “in-depth” news story rarely exceeds a few minutes on the news programs. How often have you read a front-page story in the newspaper only to turn to the jump page and see a large block of type and didn’t bother reading more?
I have a son who’s an MP in the Marines and years go I went to a partent-teachers night and questioned his English teacher about Alex’s A in reading. I’d never seen the kid open a book! The teacher explained that the kids learned to read off a computer not “Dick & Jane book” like I did! That leaves two generations behind me who grew up with computers. I had two tin cans hooked together with twine . . .
As a writer, I have to take all this into consideration. I write hoping to entertain a reader and to do that I need to keep the reader’s attention. He/she can close my book (or close the tablet) and grab someone else’s book. That’s also why researching is important. Readers may like it short and quick, but they also expect honesty. Call a magazine for a semi-automatic handgun a “clip” and you’ll turn off anyone that knows guns and today that’s a lot of people across the country. Today, Fiction has to be written honestly.
I travel to places I want my characters to go so I can a feel of the landscape, weather, streets and traffic, and so much more. My Key West is recognizable to anyone that’s been here. I often hear from readers about the bars and neighborhoods in my books. They are happy to know exactly where I am writing about; they had a drink at the bar and think they met some of the off-beat characters I write about.
Chapter 32 ends in the Key West Cemetery. If I walk through there many more times, taking notes, seeing the gravestones and crypts up close, I may not be able to leave. Someone might just dig a hole, or open an empty crypt and throw me in.
I’d better get Chapter 33 done and move out of the cemetery to a nice, friendly bar. I don’t mind if people don’t want me to leave there.