Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Big Chapter... or What Not to Do During First Draft

So, I am trying to get back into the swing of working on Nano again. It ain't easy, lemme tell ya. Of course, it would've been a whole lot easier if I had done one simple thing while I was first-drafting.

You know, like put in chapter breaks.

Sitting here looking at where to begin catching back up with Randi and Jack and Vic, I was faced with the daunting size of chapter 15. (Hereafter known as The Big Chapter.) You see, way back when I wrote chapter 15, I must've been on a roll. I just kept typing and typing, and before I knew it chapter 15 was fifty-plus pages long. Never one to heed my own inner warnings, I forged ahead.

And then I stopped writing. After which, I came back to find myself thoroughly lost, without so much as a bread crumb to guide me back onto the path. It was either start over from the beginning (actually, in this case, the midpoint) or tear my hair out trying to figure where I went astray.

Usually reading a last chapter shakes something loose, but in this case, the last chapter was 192 pages long. Just the sight of that huge sea of text looming over me was enough to send me running back to my notebook. :shudder:

Tonight, I waded in and decided to tackle the beast by doing what I should've done in the first place. I put in chapter breaks. I didn't much care exactly where - except for the obvious fact that each was placed at a scene break. It doesn't really matter where they are, just that they are.

Heh. The little hang-ups we writers get ourselves tangled up by.

This done, though, I feel much better about wrestling the story into place. Even scanning through the pages tonight, I got a better sense of who my characters were and how they all fit together. I even saw a few places where I had changed the gist of a minor character, and realized I now have to go back to the beginning and make him who he really is. Good stuff wandering through pages.

And if I'd done this sooner, I could already be deep in the fixes rather than trying to write the end so I can get to the fixes.

Some days I could just throttle myself. Know what I mean?


1 comment:

Kristen Painter said...

I couldn't write with chapters - they're what motivate me to write sometimes, just knowing that I'm close to finishing a chapter.