Today I was asked if there is a specific purpose behind the structure of my novels, specifically The Third Rule and Black by Rose.
Yes. There is.
And you have to bear in mind that although I’m on my tenth novel, I’m still developing – and I suppose I will until I turn my toes up. But anyway, the theory behind the short scenes in The Third Rule was quite simply to break up some very long chapters, and to allow me to move back and forth between characters and their circumstances while remaining inside a chapter.
Black by Rose is a different story; it’s shorter, punchier, sharper, not so much of a deep insight into each character’s story, more a smash and grab. And that’s down the scene structure. I used scenes inside chapters this time to keep the narrative flowing, and to keep the reader on their toes. It’s a method I also employ in the latest book, Sword of Damocles.
Overarching those theories is one other reason I use scenes like that: because that’s how I visualise the story. I like films, and I like how the director cuts between scenes and characters, sometimes settling on one for just a second or two. That’s how I see their story unfurling, and that’s also how I see mine. I spent four or five years writing screenplays, and the scene breaks are crucial there. I’d like to say that my novels’ structure is down to script-writing, but it’s not; I was writing books long before scripts.
As I work to eventually write shorter chapters (really working on that with the current project, Ledston Luck – and it’s a hard habit to break), I’ll keep on with the scenes and the sub-scenes because they work for me as a writer, and I’ve heard nothing negative so far from readers.
If you’ve read any of the books mentioned here, or any of my earlier books featuring Roger Conniston, how do you feel about the scenes and even the sub-scenes? Do you like them, helps break things up, or do you hate them because you lose continuity?