So I'm new to both serial writing as well as writing in general, which means everything about my serial is a whole new experience, and I've learned quite a bit in the past two months. One thing that I still need to improve on, however, is chapter breaks and story flow, so I want to pick you guys' brains on this one issue:
Where do you put your chapter breaks?
By that I mean how do you segment the story and publish it? For me, I started with the plan of 1 chapter per week, each chapter having between 2K - 3K words. I figured this schedule is really doable, and I could even improve on it if there was a need for bonus chapters. So I divided my story into 'acts' - basically like a season of a TV serial - each having their own intro, middle and end, character arc, yadda yadda... Then wrote that act and every 2-3 thousand words I would find a good place to stop and break into a new chapter.
The good about this approach is that it's pretty reliable. Sometimes you end up having a chapter that's too long or too short because there was no good stopping point in that range. But generally the chapters divided pretty easily, I knew how long it would take for me to write a chapter, and I just concentrated on the structure of the 'act' (pretty sure that's not the proper term, btw. I suppose you could call the main arc a 'chapter', and break that into 'sub-chapters' or whatever, but it's just a different flavor of confusing).
The problem with the approach above is that sometimes you get a whole chapter where not much has happened. Either it's all setup for the next chapter, or the climax of the act happened last chapter, and the next one is just the denouement and set-up for the next act... Basically, the structure of each chapter kinda suffered, even if it held up when read all together.
So what I tried to do is plan the structure of the chapters, as well as the act, so that EVERY chapter had its mini-arc, or at least some change in circumstances so that things change between the chapter starting and the chapter ending. I also tried to start the chapter with a problem, situation or question, and end the chapter with the problem solved or getting worse, or the situation changed, or the question answered or discussed.
As a result I like my new chapters better, and hope they will feel more satisfying to read and be better structurally. At least they feel like an improvement in my (biased) opinion. BUT, this choice also means more work separating the chapters and figuring them out, and is also making the chapter lengths unpredictable. Now I've head chapters breaking into the 4K word limit, and I can no longer plan how long exactly it will take me to finish a chapter. Because a chapter is no longer 'around 2 to 3 thousand words' worth of story' but 'a mini-arc that has to start like this, end like that, and have this and this in the middle'. So not only their length is impossible to control, but they're now tending to be longer and longer.
So what are your thoughts on this? How do you choose where to start and end your chapters, and how does that affect the overall structure, both of the chapter and the overall story? I'm curious to see if other people had similar issues, and how they dealt with them. Let me hear your thoughts!
(silly PS side note: All this stuff I just wrote about a chapter feeling better or feeling unsatisfying is obviously from my own point of view, and might not be correct. I'm a newbie writer and this whole post is my opinion, and so I don't feel obligated to end every sentence with 'in my opinion' or 'although I'm not sure if this is true'. Also, if you happen to read my serial you wouldn't see any of what I'm talking about because I have a buffer, and the whole 'every chapter is a mini-arc' experiment only started in act 4, which I still haven't published. Everything in these parentheses is irrelevant to the main post, but I wanted to add it for completeness' sake. If you managed to read it all up to here, then congratulations! Your boredom threshold is quite impressive!)