Plot, Pacing, and Structure
Climax chapter issue
So, in my book on here, the chapters switch point of views between the three main characters. Most of the chapters are from Mia's point of view, as it's technically her story, and it seems to work out. However, when I get to the climax chapter, I switch between all three points of views in one chapter. Normally I'm against when that happens, but it seems to work best here. My problem is it's about 15,000 words. Which is really long for a chapter.
My friend who's editing it says we're probably going to have to cut it up into at least two chapters, but I don't want to, nor do I know how to. How do people on here feel about such long chapters? It'd be about 50 pages in a novel format (assuming 300 words per page), and while I don't have any problems reading that, I don't know about other people.
Hate to do this to you but I'm going to side with your friend . The issue of a climax chapter getting so lengthy is tempting to keep it all in one piece. I have read several books lately, however, that have done exactly what you (and I at some points) didn't want to do. During some of the most intense points of action the story flip flopped from one perspective to another. Each perspective was given its own chapter to give the reader a chance to know that the narrative was switching gears. Some chapters were only a few pages long.
Personally my concern was interrupting the flow of the ending with chapter breaks. Reading through these published books I found the flow really didn't break at all. In fact, it helped me keep mental tabs on the various events happening simultaneously. I'm as guilty as any for missing proper chapter divides, but just my two cents.
Think about it in terms of TV commercial breaks. They don't simply stop the action. The break comes at a spot where some turning point in the plot occurs—a place where te reader leans back and says, "Oh my, what do we do now." That's where you place chapter breaks.
Quite frankly, any scene that steadily increases in tension over 15k words, with no turning points or scene end would seem to be well into melodrama at that point.
A very long final chapter with a lot of POV changes suggests to me that you may be including things that should have been placed earlier, or at least "tagged" earlier. A final chapter should not need cramming with information.
Ask yourself (or your friend) to do a rough outline of that 15,000 words and mark them (I use colored highlighters when this happens to me) to indicate what must be new at the climax and what could be set up earlier. Look at the chronology carefully--if you're switching POVs, are you doing so by time or place or something else? Are the POV characters in the same location? Does all the action within the 15K words happen at once or is there a sequence? If they're in the same place, at the same time, can you make one the primary POV and hold that through a chapter? (Keep the chronological sequence, but let the story be told through a different character until the next logical spot.)
Chapters of about 5000 words, +\- 1000 (short story length) work well in most books. Shorter ones work in some books but are annoying in others. So with 15,000 you have three solid chapters...and you have three points of view, you say. As it happens, my latest book had more than 3 POV characters (developed through four previous volumes) and the final chapters are each in a different POV--but I did have main characters who were not in the same location when the end came crashing down.