Tricks for Novelists: Continuing scenes and chapters

Before we get into continuing scenes and chapters, I have a secret to tell you.

1500 is the magic number.

I know. Schoolhouse Rock told you it was 3.

Well, it told me that 3 was a magic number—now that I think about it, you may be too young to remember Schoolhouse Rock. I am not. In fact, my entire generation grew up thinking 3 was the magic number, and we can sing 3's theme song word for word to this day.

But 3, while a magic number, is not the magic number.

1500 is the magic number.

That's because 1500 (give or take) is the top end of how many words(-ish) the Write button area will look at when you ask the robot to add on to your current WIP (Work in progress.)

Now, I need to post a few disclaimers:

  • It's not exactly 1500 words.
  • The Write button has multiple features like Auto, Tone, and Guided. Not all of them look at around 1500 words.
  • The Write button has multiple features that look at words, but some may look at words differently. Some look back behind your cursor, some look forward and back if you have words in front of your cursor. And again, not all look at 1500-ish words.

And oh, by the way—everything I said here?

It can change as the tuning gets better or the model changes or our behavior using the software makes it clear the settings may need to be tweaked.

Clear as mud?

Just realize that if you can get around 1500 words in your WIP, you maximize your ability to influence Sudowrite's output based on your writing. (At least at this very moment in time.) Knowing this information and using it to your advantage will allow you to make progress on your WIPs without frustration.

Okay, with less frustration.

Using former chapters to inform the next chapter

Sudowrite user and crime fiction author Kevin Berry came up with this trick when he was experimenting with the Write button, and it works pretty well.

First, cut and paste a finished chapter into the editing area.

Then write part of a scene after what you've pasted, making sure there's at least 1500 words in total for Sudowrite to chew on. Then leave a blank line. After that blank line, write "Continue the scene with _____________."

Fill that blank line with a one sentence description of what you want to happen next.

Then click the Write button, choosing Guided.

Look at the suggestions, pick one (or hit the circled arrow to get three more suggestions) and see what output you get.

When Kevin posted this in the Sudowrite community, several other users tried it and reported back great results with this technique.