While this question may be a little nit-picky I realize chapters do help the flow of a book, and, since I'm now plotting a novel, I figured it's a good time to ask.
In a non-lineary storyline, I've noticed two ways chapters are laid out; I think the best way to describe it is dynamic versus static chapter sequence.
Static chapter sequences I would describe as a round-robin approach to subplots. For example, if there are 3 subplots, each "act" will be broken up into 3 chapters, with the order of subplots constant with each act.
A real-world example of this is Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson. When I was reading this the subplots were per-chapter to the point where it became annoying and monotonous for me. With this sequence, I see a few pros and cons:
- Pro: the reader is able to predict what chapter goes with with subplot so they're not having to guess for the first few paragraphs.
- Con: since chapters can control the flow of the story, the chapters may not coincide with the story flow.
Dynamic chapter sequences go with the flow of the story. You may follow one subplot for several chapters while another subplot may get a chapter here and there (and, in most cases, they end up getting an equal share at the end of the story).
A real-world example of this (that I'm reading right now) is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
For about half the book I was wondering if Salander was still alive (meaning she wasn't mentioned a whole lot). Pros and cons:
- Pro: the chapters follow the flow of the story
- Con: The reader may forget about small sublots.
Am I using the correct terminology? Is my question too confusing? Thanks, in any case! :-)