Chapters: To Name or Not to Name

Chapters, some books have them, some don’t, and everyone has an opinion on them, so I asked my fellow writers over on Twitter for their thoughts. Below are some of the responses.

As you can see, the responses varied. Some people like short ones, others long, others don’t care as long as they work with the story being told. Another contentious issue is the naming of chapters. So what are my thoughts?

When it comes to reading, I enjoy a short chapter. It appears to make the book easier to read. I say this because I’m one of those people who likes to put a book down when it reaches the end of a chapter. When I stop in the middle of a chapter, I don’t particularly appreciate going back into a book. It simply makes it more challenging to read. So, because the chapters are short, I can say, “I’ll just read one more,” and it won’t take me long. I’ll probably save it for another time if it’s a long chapter. I’ve seen really long chapters and ones that are only a paragraph or two long in my reading life, but the responses I received from my fellow authors/readers are correct; if it works for the storey, it doesn’t matter how long the chapter is. Of course, some books, such as Terry Pratchett’s novels, do not even have chapters. When I’m reading these, it’s all about finding that logical stopping point in the narrative, like switching to the voice of another character. Some people may find this off-putting, and I understand how they feel; it took me a while to adjust, but it works well in his novels.

When I’m writing, my chapters are pretty short. This isn’t a conscious decision, mind you; it just seems to be the way things turn out. I have, however, written a few long chapters when a scene calls for more detail or fleshing out. However, there are some advantages to this writing style, particularly when it comes to editing. It means I can keep using my “just one more” method and not stop in the middle.

The naming of chapters is also a topic of debate among authors and readers. Some people may interpret chapter titles as a spoiler for what will happen within the chapter, which could ruin their reading experience. I understand this, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ve read many books, and there’s a lot of naming, not naming, and even adding timestamps and other things. It’s never ruined my enjoyment of a book for me, and sometimes I don’t even notice what a chapter is called. I don’t read “Chapter 4” and pay attention to it, so chapter names/titles don’t bother me.

I’ve used a variety of styles in my writing. My first book, Creatures, had numbered chapters, but it was divided into three distinct parts, each of which had a name, but would anyone have read these title pages? I’m not sure. I used numbered chapters again in The Next Stage, but this time I added time and date stamps to show when the action in the scene occurred. This, I believe, not only aids the reader in determining what is happening and when, but also aids me in editing by allowing me to get the timing correct within the storey. Incredibly useful! The only thing that Blindsighted had were chapter numbers. I started naming them, but I gave up halfway through because I saw the names as minor spoilers that, in a way, ruined the mood I was trying to set in the book. However, in my most recent WIP, the second book in the Creatures series, I’m still using “Part 1, Part 2, etc.,” but I’m also naming my chapters. I’m finding it helpful to name them in this case because it helps me remember what happened in each; whether I’ll keep them in the finished manuscript is another question; I haven’t decided yet.

I believe that the debate over chapters will continue as long as books are written, and that the way they are organised may change over time. So whatever method you prefer, stick with it and enjoy writing/reading the way you want.

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again


What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge to write 50,000 words on a new novel or your current WIP. You keep track of your progress on the website, where you can see how everyone else is doing. You don’t lose out if you don’t manage to do the challenge; it’s all just for fun.

Last year I took part in the challenge with my then WIP, It’s All in the Eyes. I ended up stuck as to where to go with that story, so the challenge pretty much fell by the wayside. But I did manage to add another 20,000 words to the story. This year, however, rather than carrying on with IAITE, I’m putting my current WIP, And Then I Killed Her up for the challenge. I’m currently 22,300 words in, so if I can add another 50,000 by the end of the month, then it will probably be near enough finished. I’d love to get the first draft of this WIP finished, I know there will still be a lot of work to do on it, but it’ll be another step closer to publishing.

This challenge is a great way to get you to write every day, even if it’s just a little. Having a goal to work to makes it easier to see how far you’ve come. I urge any writers out there to give it a go. You’ll also be able to see my progress on my profile over on the NaNoWriMo website.

This weekend I had another idea for a story pop into my head, so I spent a bit of time making notes for it. I don’t want to say too much about it at the moment, but it’s going to be different to other things that I’ve written.

In other news, my story over on Twitter using the #VSS365 daily word prompts, Who Lives Beneath, is still going strong. I will probably do another round-up as a blog post soon, so you’ll be able to read it without having to scroll through the thread.

I’ll leave this here for now; I’ve got some uni work that I need to get done. Have a good week!

What is a Foundation Year at University?

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll already know that I’ve recently started doing a creative writing degree at university. What I’ve not said is that I’m not yet doing my degree proper; I’m doing what’s termed a “Foundation Year”.

As I’m a mature student and haven’t been in education since I was 17, the idea of going to uni and being thrust into studying was a very daunting one. When we found out that I could do a foundation year as a precursor to the degree, it made me feel much better about going.

So, what is a foundation year?

Simply put, a foundation year is a way to ease yourself into the world of university. It’s designed to give you the skills that you need to study for your degree.

Last week I had an induction week in which it was explained what sort of things we will be doing this year, and it was also an opportunity to meet the staff that will be teaching us. This week has been my first week of actual lectures, and so far, I’ve found them extremely interesting.

What sorts of things have I been doing this week?

There are several modules that make up this semester that are designed to guide you into the process. These include;

Study and group work skills – in this module, we’ll be learning how to study and work with each other on projects. It should give us the skills to have discussions between ourselves and be able to give our opinion. This module – I have to admit – was one that I was worried about. I’ve never been great at working in groups in a learning session, and I struggle to get my point across. But I’ve found that even at this early stage, I find myself engaging so much more than I ever thought I would. This has made me feel so much better about things, although I do have some anxiety about it.

Critical thinking skills – this module is all about learning how things are written. It shows us how to critique pieces of writing and think about how it’s all put together. We’ve so far looked at a few speeches, and although I’ve not been confident in what I’ve been saying, I’ve still tried to get my point across and explain what I mean. I’m looking forward to learning to figure out other people’s writing and what methods they use to get their points across.

Reading management skill – it seems self-explanatory what this module is all about, but from what I’ve learned, it’s far from it. In this weeks session, we were learning about what English as a subject actually is and how we would define it. Again, this was really interesting, and already I’ve been thinking of things in a new way.

Intro to Literary Theory – I’ve honestly no real idea what this is all about, but from what I’ve gathered, it’s learning how to interpret different texts against specific theories. I’m looking forward to this session even though I don’t know what to expect.

It’s already been said a number of times that we will be learning skills that no other student will have if they go straight into their degree. This, in theory, should give us a bit of a leg up and hopefully help us do better when it comes to the degree requirements.

I’m already enjoying what we’ve done, and I look forward to everything to come. This whole experience will hopefully bring me out of my shell and hopefully reduce the anxiety that I’ve been feeling, as well as giving me more knowledge to complete my degree and work my trade of writing.

Whether you’re a young or mature student, I’d recommend doing a foundation year as it looks to be a great way to introduce university life.

What To Write?

Being a writer sometimes means that you have to juggle your different ideas. I recently asked my fellow writers on Twitter how they decide which idea to work on;

I currently have around 9 ideas that are in various stages of development. Some are just a very basic idea, some have a number of notes written for them, and others have several chapters done.

I tend to flit between ideas often. If I have a new idea that I want to develop, I will spend some time working on that before continuing with previous ideas. Some stories come easier than others. For example, I got a bit stuck with my story It’s All in the Eyes, and then I had the idea for Blindsighted. I found the latter flowed smoother and quicker, and I could fully develop that into a release.

At the moment, I’m working on, And Then I Killed Her, which for now is coming freely. However, if I get stuck, I may move on to one of my other ideas.

Having said that, if I come up with a new idea – for example, I came up with an idea for a new story the other day that involves a homeless wizard – I may spend a few minutes writing a few sentences or jotting down the basic premise, but I won’t spend a great deal of time working on it.

Some books, like The Next Stage 2 and Creatures 2, are coming off the back of a previous entry, so I have a few ideas bouncing around of where I can take the story, but because – in my mind – they have to live up to the book that came before I spend a bit more time figuring things out. Creatures 2 is around halfway written, but I got a little stuck and decided that I would move on to something else rather than struggling with it.

It can be a blessing and a curse to have a lot of ideas bouncing around. On the one hand, it’s great because you’ve always got something to work on if you have issues with a current WIP. But on the other, it can be a pain because I want to work on several at a time. For example, I’m really excited about my wizard story, but my current serial killer WIP is going so well that I don’t want to stop writing it if I lose my flow.

As I’ve found from asking folks on Twitter, everyone has a different way of figuring out which story they will work on at any given time. As with many things, what works for one, might not work for you, so find your own method.

University Nerves

Come September I’ll become a student for the first time since I was 17 as I head off to university to study creative writing.

I had my place confirmed several months back, but when this week I officially registered, it all became real; I’m actually going. Although I’m excited to go to uni and study something that I love doing, there’s still a part of me that’s very anxious about going.

I quit my job in IT back in May of 2020 as it was having an adverse effect on my mental health. After working in the industry for around 13 years, I had gotten to the point that I really didn’t want to work in IT for the rest of my life. I had started to resent it. It was a big step for me to take, as work had always been the one constant in my life, and it’s what got me through some tough times. So when it no longer helped, I felt lost.

I had no idea what I would do, but I knew that I wanted to give writing full time a try. However, there was always something in the back of my mind telling me that I’d probably end up having to go back into IT, even though I didn’t want to.

When it got to Christmas, I felt like I had to do something; otherwise, I’d spend my life feeling kind of worthless, so after discussing it with Alex, we decided that I should apply for uni.

Again, I didn’t want to do anything IT related; if possible, I wanted to do a course that would help me with my writing as I felt that I could really make a go of it. After browsing some courses online, we came across the creative writing one. After reading it, I was excited about the possibilities that it could create for me. I already loved to write, but I wanted to get better, so why shouldn’t I give the course a go.

I applied that night, but there was still a part of me that thought that I wouldn’t get in. Due to some pre-diagnosis struggles with my mental health back when I was doing my A-Levels, I didn’t get the best grades and thought this would hold me back as there would be someone better that could take my place.

I spent the next few months on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear back. Of course, I knew I would only hear after a certain date, but that didn’t stop me from checking the UCAS portal daily to see if there had been a response.

Pretty soon after the end date for applications had passed, I got an email offering me a conditional place. I didn’t know what this meant, but I already dreaded what I might have to do to get a confirmed place. Luckily, the only thing they wanted was a copy of my A-Level results and not long after I had sent this in, I had a full unconditional offer for a place. I couldn’t accept it quick enough – I’d done it.

There was still that annoying part in the back of my brain that was telling me that something would go wrong or that it had been a mistake, and they’d soon realise and rescind the offer. But they never did.

With my place confirmed, all I had to do was sit back and wait. I’d gotten my student finance sorted pretty quick, so now I just looked forward to starting.

So, here I am now, a month or so away from starting, and it’s hit me – I’m going to university. I never thought that I would ever have the chance after f!cking up my A-Levels so spectacularly and never having the confidence just to apply. This is one of the biggest things to happen to me in my life, and I still can’t believe it.

I don’t think the anxiety will leave me for a while yet. I know once I start, I’ll probably be fine; it’s just the anticipation and not knowing that kills me. It will all be new to me, and I’m never great with new things. But I want this so much that I’m willing to fight through the anxiety and my stupid brain to get where I want to go. I’m going to make the most of this opportunity that I never thought would happen.

Over the past few years, I’ve done several things that I never thought I would do, get engaged, write a book and now go to uni. Despite all the issues I still have to fight with, I feel that my life is actually going somewhere now, and I like it.

I’m going to spend the next few weeks putting together blog posts and continue work on, And Then I Killed Her, as I don’t know how much time I’ll have for these things when I start my course.

I leave you with this if there’s something that you’re thinking of doing but haven’t yet:

Ghostly Occurrences in Apartment 42: Part XII

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX

Part X

Part XI

Part XII


After an uneventful couple of months, things started to happen again. As always, it seemed worse in winter. Then, when November rolled around, strange things would happen daily. I would see shadows moving around the apartment, behind the shower curtain, knocking on walls and doors, rattling in the kitchen and unexplainable cold spots.

One night in late November, things started to really kick-off. The spare room, in particular, appeared to be the centre of things.

In the evening, I was having a shower when the taps at the sink came on full blast, spraying water everywhere. I turned them off and resumed my shower; after half a minute or so, something punched the shower curtain in, making me jump.

With things happening regularly, I decided to start recording in the spare room. I set up my camera on the arm of the sofa while I lay on the bed. I sat mostly in the dark, but I left the hall light on, so I had some light for the video camera.

When I was set up, I sat there for some time, asking for whatever was there and doing these things to do something for me now while I was recording.

Things seemed to go quiet, and there was a heavy feeling in the air that I couldn’t explain. It was tense and could feel something in the apartment with me. It was like someone was constantly watching me. Something trying to work out what to do.

I sat in silence for some time. Then, after around six and a half minutes, I felt a sharp pain in my side. It was as if something jabbed me hard in the side, but it also felt like an electric shock. When I looked at the area that I had felt the pain, I saw that I’d been scratched by something. Shocked, I recorded as the marks became more pronounced and blood started to rise to the surface.

Now feeling terrified, I quickly leave the room to take a look at what had just been done. The room felt off, it was a strange feeling, but I knew I had to get out.

As I looked at the scratches, I started to see more of them. The whole experience was enough to freak me out and make me feel like I could no longer film what was happening.

When I went through the video footage, I noticed several more things that the video had picked up that I hadn’t noticed at the time.

For starters, while I’m talking at the start of the video, a voice comes out of nowhere saying either “no” or “go” I wasn’t able to discern which.

A few seconds later, when I’m talking about the taps turning themselves on, I hear what sounds like the words “shut up” as well as the usual distortion of the video.

The next thing is something that will stay with me; at the point of the video where I hell out when I feel something hit me, there is a laugh. Not just any laugh, but an evil sort of chuckle. Like whatever did that to me, was really amused by it.

Finally, when I’m out of the spare room and examining the marks, I place the camera on the other side of me. What I didn’t notice at the time, is that there were two scratches on the other side of my stomach, which I didn’t feel. These also look fresh and like they are bleeding.

The entire experience of that night felt different from previous ones. This one felt like whatever this was, was getting fed up with me filming and so had to do something so that I would stop. Well, it got its wish. So after that night, no matter what happened, I never recorded anything again.

For a while, things seemed to quieten down, and I had only the odd experience.

Next week will be the final post in this series and I will talk about some of the other things that happened when other people were there and the things that happened just before (and after) we moved out.

Below are the videos discussed in this post, take a look and let me know what you think;

Well frig! (Recording 26/11/12)

A Laugh? (26/11/12)

Another Noise (26/11/12)


Nothing like starting the day off with a Monty Python reference.

I’m starting today what I’ve been dreading and putting off for a week now; rewriting what I have of my current WIP, And Then I Killed Her.
I’m only around five chapters in, but I feel like the pace is off. Things are moving way too quickly, and the tension I’m trying to build just isn’t happening. I’ve got ideas of how to fix it, but it’s just felt way too daunting to start on. But I know I have to do it sooner or later, so I figure I just have to make a start on it and see how it goes.
What I’ve written is good, and I like it a lot; it just doesn’t flow as well as I’d like. And as I’ve moved the story along a little bit quicker than I expected, I’m unsure where to go next. I’m hoping that spending some time on it over the next week or so will get me back on track.

I still want And Then I Killed Her to be my next release, so whatever I have to do to it, I will; it might just take me a little longer than I had initially thought to get it finished. But these things happen and can’t be helped. I suppose it’s all part of my chaotic writing style. Maybe if I planned things out a little more, I wouldn’t run into these issues. Maybe…

With going to university in September, I want to try and get as much done on this novel as I can before my time is taken up by uni work. Perhaps all of this will help me prepare for uni and the course to come.

Back to it now, I guess.

Before I go, though, I just want to let you know that the Kindle versions of my novels The Next Stage and Blindsighted will be available for free over on Amazon this weekend. There’s no particular reason for this; I just want to get my books out there to as many people as possible.

Have a good weekend!

My Current WIP: A Teaser

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen earlier this week that I revealed a little teaser for my latest WIP. It wasn’t much, but I wanted to show you at least something about what I’m working on.

And Then I Killed Her has been progressing quite well, until this week when I’ve not really been able to do a great deal on it for one reason or another. I’m hoping that this will change next week.

This story is something that came from a #vss365 writing prompt, and straight away, I knew that I had to write a full story. I don’t know if it’ll be a full-length novel or a short story yet; I need to see where it goes first before deciding. Either way, it will likely be the next thing that I publish, and I can’t wait for you to read it.

It’s a paranormal-horror-thriller (if that’s a thing), and in it, we follow Peter Finch, a serial killer whose latest victim just won’t stay dead.

I don’t want to reveal too much of it for now (mainly because I haven’t written it yet), but I’ve wanted to reveal something since I started writing it.

Below is the teaser video, and I hope to reveal more as I go – both on social media and on this website.

I hope I have piqued your interest enough for the moment, though.

Have a good weekend!

Ghostly Occurrences in Apartment 42: Part IV

Click the links below to read the other parts of the story:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX

Part X

Part XI

Part XII


One day I had a few friends around to the flat. We were all sat in the lounge having a chat and playing games, and nothing out of the ordinary was happening. I had gotten up and walked into the kitchen to get someone a drink. Everyone was still talking, and I was sorting the drink out. I stood in the kitchen with my back to the fridge – which I’d left open. Suddenly there was an almighty crash. Everyone turned round to look at me, and for a second, I wondered what had happened. It was then that I realised that the fridge door had shut, not just shut, but had been slammed by some unseen force. Now, a couple of the friends I had around had heard the stories I’d told them about what had been happening but still didn’t believe it. I stood in the kitchen staring at the fridge and everyone asking what had happened; I think some of them thought that I had slammed it.

After that, everyone seemed a little more on edge. Our conversation didn’t stray too far from the subject of ghosts and hauntings. This was when Mark said that he didn’t believe it and there had to be an explanation. I told him that a lot of what had been happening had been centred around the spare room, so I said if he didn’t believe it, he should sleep in there. He laughed this off and said that it wouldn’t be a problem.

Later that night, everyone else left, leaving Mark and me alone in the apartment. After another hour or so, we went to bed—me in the main bedroom, him in the spare room.

It wasn’t long before I got to sleep – the joy of medication that helps me sleep – and I assumed that Mark did too.

Around 2 AM, my phone beeped loudly and woke me up – I must have forgotten to put it back on silent. The notification was for a text. A text that read, “Come in here now.”

Concerned that something had happened to my friend, I staggered sleepily towards the spare room and opened the door. I found him sat up in bed, holding the duvet tightly. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that there had been someone/something stood behind the door watching him. I asked him what it looked like, and he said that it was just a dark shape, but it was definitely person-shaped and that it had disappeared as soon as I had opened the door.

I looked around the door and the room to see if I could see anything, but there was nothing, and nothing felt off like it usually did when I’d seen/heard things. I told Mark that I had seen something similar in my bedroom a few days earlier.

I asked if he was going to try and go back to sleep, and he said he couldn’t, so for the rest of the night, until the sun started to come up, we sat in the lounge playing something. This experience rattled my friend, and he said that he didn’t want to stay here overnight again. For someone that didn’t believe anything, this was a big thing to admit.

Now that other people had experienced things too, I knew for sure that I wasn’t losing my marbles and that something was in the apartment with me, and that something seemed to want to make its presence known.

The next day, I decided to set up a camera in the spare room and leave it running for an extended time period to see what I could catch.

The story will continue next week.

Ghostly Occurrences in Apartment 42: Part III

Click the links below to read the other parts of the story:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX

Part X

Part XI

Part XII


Strange things had been happening in the apartment for a few months now, and I was starting to think I was losing my mind. One night I was woken at around 3:30 am by what I could only describe as a “grumble”. I decided to put my phone camera on and start to record. Nothing much really happened while I was recording. The room’s darkness made it so there wasn’t really that much you could see, and I didn’t hear any further grumbling noises but I could see a darker darkness – yeah, I’ve got a great vocabulary – as if someone were stood behind the door. I recorded for just under 3 and a half minutes until I decided that nothing else was going to happen.

The next day I copied the video over to my laptop and started to go through it to see if I could see or hear anything on it that I might have missed during my early morning recording session. Around twenty seconds in, I heard a low grumbling sound. I isolated the section it was in and increased the volume, and there, sure enough, was a grumble or growl. This took me back some. I definitely hadn’t heard that at that time, but I remembered the sound that woke me, and that was almost exactly what it sounded like. I sat in awe for a while, playing the sound over and over. This, for me, was proof that something was going on, and I wasn’t losing my mind completely. Hearing this sound also scared me slightly, as it didn’t sound like a particularly nice sound.

At this point, I wasn’t sure what to do with the videos, so I just saved them to my hard drive and decided that I would try to do more recording in the following days.

I put all this to the back of my mind and decided that I would start to go through some of the dialogue recordings from a Todd the Zombie session with Paul. As usual, I was going through them, trying to find the best version of the lines, when I came across another odd sound.

Now, nothing out of the ordinary had happened during the recording session. So what I came across confused me at first. As with the previous sound, I tried to isolate it, but it was in the middle of one of Paul’s line where he was speaking. I cut it down, increased the volume and played it repeatedly.

The noise sounded pretty similar to the previous grumble/growl that I found, but there was more of a wordiness to it, but I couldn’t tell what was being said. There was definitely a breathy sort of quality to it, and it only sounded like a single syllable. No matter how many times I played the sound, I couldn’t make out what was being said.

I saved the file and went back to editing. Nothing else popped out at me as unusual in the rest of Paul’s recorded dialogue, but I found something even stranger when I got to mine.

Again this sound was difficult to isolate as it occurred around me talking. This noise was different to the others as it didn’t sound breathy or human; It sounded more electronic. It was an odd clicking sound. I played it over and over and couldn’t figure it out.

When I got bored of playing it, I decided I would try to recreate it using things that were around when I recorded the lines. First, I tried to do it using my voice. I could kind of do a popping and clicking, but it didn’t sound anywhere close to what I’d caught. I rubbed my hands over the microphone to see if it was this, but again it sounded nothing like it. I tried several other things using the computer, but nothing came close. Again I saved this file with the others and continued my work. There was nothing else out of place in the recordings.

The next couple of days were fairly uneventful, but things started to happen again on the third day.

Part IV will be posted next week.

Below are the videos that I took and posted to YouTube.

3:30 AM

3:30 AM (Just the noise)

Todd Recording 1

Todd Recording 2