When I lay out my outline, I do it by sections, assuming each section will be about 1,200 words and aiming for the word length I believe fits my subject. For the Ruby Spider Conspiracy, I chose 75,000 words, which I chose to break into 64 sections. Initially, this is arbitrary, based on a best guess at how the story will flow. I don’t worry about chapter layout at first because that will become more evident as the story unfolds.
Ultimately, I would like for each chapter to be about what someone would read if they took the book back to the bathroom. It’s easier to leave a book and come back to it if you can do it at the end of a chapter.
I like for each section to stay with one Point of View character in one location at one point in time. Like most rules, that isn’t hard and fast, but it’s easier for the reader if it works that way. Like most rules of thumb, I’m not against breaking them when necessary.
As I’m writing Section 38, coming toward another pinch point, there is action in four venues. Raisa is developing the intelligent nanobot entity EVE in Bishkek; Kassar is dealing with the Ruby Spider cabal from his home in Mongolia; . Nicoleta Văduva is deploying the original nanobot defense system from Manas; and, Ai-mei is creating an improved version of the plague at her laboratory in North Korea.
At this point, I have decided to do two things that are less uniform. First, I will break some sections into sub-sections of 500 words or less; and, second, I will allow one of the non-main characters (Ai-mei) to take a POV role temporarily. One of my intentions in doing this is to bring the Ruby Spider out of the shadows and have their representative, Johnathan Pembroke start to play a larger part as their scheme moves toward completion.
It’s still a first draft, so I may juggle all these parts differently in the next draft, but for now, I want to get all of the story down on paper in some form.
Keep on writing. David