Kristina, one of the very few people who have read Spiritkeeper (and who finished it last night–the subject of the next post), mentioned her reaction to the ends of chapters; how they left her suspended and kept her wanting more.

K is an attentive and perceptive reader. She’s right. And that impression is not accidental.

The shaping and pace of a chapter—indeed of a book entire—is something that happens by design. The concluding of a chapter and the opening of the next one is the bridge over an invisible chasm. It is the thwarting of that “guess I’ll stop here and go to sleep” place; the way of keeping the story so compelling that walking away from it becomes impossible. At least for the moment.

Seems strange to write about this part of the craft at a remove from it. As K and I discussed in a phone conversation last night, the craft of writing seems to have no relation to the living organism that the book is for me. This is a part of the craft that is, at this stage of my writing life (and with Spiritkeeper in particular), more organic than deliberate; an instinct that speaks through the story, and helps keep the joy of it alive. It is the hint of what is to come. And it’s a force that loves the characters as much as I do. In short—it happens.

Pacing of a book overall has much the same challenges…creating a rhythm that goes from leisurely to driven; that accelerates and slows as a heartbeat does…the music that rises to a resounding finish. It is the character of a meal, from salt to savory to sweet; the structuring of the courses that help to ensure fulfillment at the end.

These are the lessons learned in darkness, by storytelling firelight. The lessons learned in the many three ayem nights as a teenager, in the excitement about seeing where the story might go, as long as it will take, even with a schoolday ahead.

In the turning of the pages is the way a book sings.

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