Intensify Your Manuscript

Is it possible to intensify your manuscript without changing a word, or rearranging just a few words? Sure it is. Your content is significant to the entertainment of the novel. The arrangement of that content becomes the intensity level for your reader. 

Make these changes so that your reader will have a hard time putting your novel down: 

Short Chapters Intensify a Novel

Instead of your chapters being ten pages long, make them five. Or even better, make them three pages. The reader will have a sense of accomplishment, as they whip through chapter after chapter. For children and tween books, this is especially important. Sometimes, I have a one-page chapter. I’ve even had a one-word chapter!

Break the traditional rules of novel writing and become Untraditional!

Short Paragraphs Intensify a Novel

Imagine your reader’s eyes, wide open, moving from one line to the next. Short paragraphs speeds up the overall tempo of the chapter. And since your chapter is short, it feels like the action never stops.

Unless it is absolutely necessary, do not write paragraphs with more than seven lines. Traditional authors in the past wrote paragraphs that went on for pages. However, you are Untraditional!

Short Sentences Intensify a Novel

One of the most common mistakes by authors is dragging on a long sentence, instead of breaking it up into parts. Imagine the reader holding their breath while trying to finish a sentence. The longer the sentence, the harder it will be for the reader to endure. Quick sentences will result in quick breaths, which will intensify a story.

Power Sentences Intensify a Novel

A well-written power sentence will make the reader gasp. (In their mind of course. If the reader gasps aloud, then you REALLY wrote a terrific line!) Power Sentences are used just like the first and last line in your manuscript. It is a way to hook a reader.

Use power sentences at the beginning of the chapter, in key areas throughout the chapter, just before a page break, and at the end of the chapter.

The more power sentences you have, the more suspense, mystery, romance, or thrills you will have in your story. It will also keep the reader wanting more and anxious to turn the page.

Correct Dialogue Intensifies a Novel

Characters having a conversation will result in the reader finishing a page in less than ten seconds. (Unless one character is doing all the talking.) A quick exchange using dialogue to illustrate a scene or plot twist can be more powerful than description. The reader will follow the characters discussion with great interest.

Try writing some of the conversations without, John said or she said. Whenever possible, move the dialogue from one person to the next. If the reader knows who is speaking, then there is no reason to add, Jane said.

Limit thoughts in-between a dialogue exchange. “I’m sick of this blog,” Jane said, thinking that she has better things to do with her day. (The dialogue explains how Jane feels; no need to add the extra content.)

Correct Description Intensifies a Novel

The description of a scene can be slow and drawn out unless the author limits the content to the essential images only. Do not over describe. If the pictures on the walls have nothing to do with the story, then do not write about them. If the size of the room does not matter, then do not bring it up.

Page Breaks Intensify a Novel

Page breaks are common for scene endings, point of view changes, or to intensify the plot. Another great use for page breaks is speed. In your audiences mind, more is being accomplished during a reading.

Here is another thought. I had written a novel that was 100 chapters, with page breaks throughout the book. During my redraft, I decided to take out all the page breaks and turn them into chapters. Some chapters were four pages long; some chapters were only a half-page long. The result was a 165-chapter novel that moved like a speeding freight train.

Most traditional authors would never dare risk doing that in their novel, but who cares, because you and I are Untraditional!

Section Breaks Intensify a Novel

A section break is a stand-alone page that divides the plot into three or four stories. The purpose is to end one main plot and begin another. And just like page breaks, it gives the reader a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that the book is “moving along.”

Three section breaks in a 375-page novel is common, which will be every 125 pages. As for me, I like section breaks every 75 pages.

In your section break, you can do a variety of things. Some authors title each section or say something like, “Part II,” and “Part III.” Some authors will write a powerful bible verse, quote, or poem. It all depends on your genre and what type of mood you want the reader to be in before they begin the next section.

Writing in Short Bursts Intensifies a Novel

99% of authors disagree with me on this subject. I condition myself to write in two, or three-hour bursts, once per day. Also, I schedule days without writing, even if I have thoughts flowing in my brain. (I know, Stephen King writes everyday, so it must be the correct thing to do.) I found two productive results by using a quick burst writing schedule:

~ I am forced to think about what I’ll be writing, which produces more ideas.

~ Since I purposely limit my time, I will write as fast as possible, which produces a novel that reads as fast as possible.

I do have several writing marathon days throughout the year. However, if you write in quick bursts, then your book will read in quick, intensified bursts.

If you wrote one terrific chapter a day for a hundred days, your manuscript will be remarkable. Give it a try. Break the rules of writing and become Untraditional.

Reading Out Loud Intensifies a Novel

Finally, reading a book aloud is a good trick used by many authors. If you stutter, so will the reader. All stuttering words and sentences should be fixed in order to keep the intensity strong for your readers.

Ron Knight

Learn more ways to improve your novel. Untraditional Publishing: The Third Option


Ron Knight

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  1. Excellent blog!! Gave me goosebumps! Exciting! Yes, I need to try a few more of these. Keep rolling!

  2. Great link and resource for Teachers who teach Language Arts!!
    Please address this resource to The International Reading Association- Engage Section.