Friday, October 26, 2007

Executive Decisions

I feel a little sneaky; a moment ago I wrote, "Chapter 6" at the top of a page.

Lest you think that makes no sense, I'll explain. Since I often write out of order, jumping ahead to scenes, coming back to flesh things out and bridge gaps--and since my first attempts at beginnings are rarely set in stone--I generally begin my chapters with plain old, "Chapter" until I know for sure that there's nothing missing before that one and it's clear where it belongs and what number it would be.

At least two months ago, I decided that chapters 1-5 were solidly in place and ready for their designations. In went "Chapter 1," "Chapter 2," and on through "Chapter 5." But looking at the next section, I wasn't sure.

I hesitated, going back regularly to look at it and thinking that I really should return to another character's storyline after Chapter 5 before continuing with Tabitha's situation, which was the next one written. But I didn't yet know if there was something significant happening at that point in his story to warrant a new chapter.

So, in typical skipping fashion, I'd leave it and go on my merry way to write something else. Every couple of weeks, though, I've returned to that spot and stared at it.

IS there something missing there? Or should I just continue from what is now Chapter 5 to the next scene with the same character?

Now I'm in the final crunch. I'm rereading the whole thing from page one, filling out and fixing things as I go (which, by the way, makes the word count CREEP up slowly and sometimes even reverse . . . but I AM making progress, even if the counter over there doesn't reflect it).

This morning when I came to the end of Chapter 5 and had the single word, "Chapter" staring me in the face, I remembered: Oh, yeah. I was supposed to figure out if a new scene belonged here.

What did I do? I left the computer and had lunch. I figured that maybe while I sipped some soup I'd be able to figure out what belonged there.

Lunch ended, and I had no brilliant flashes of insight. I'm taking that to mean that no, nothing belongs there, at least right now. If I tried adding something without knowing why it's there and how it plays directly to the main conflict, it'll probably be fluff.

I hate fluff.

So I sat down, planted my hands on the keyboard, and added a "6" after the word, "Chapter."

I feel so liberated. And a little like I got away with something, as if there's part of the story I decided to play hookie on.

As if it's not my story.

Writers are so weird.

5 comments:

Katie Parker said...

I agree; writers are weird! I've got chapter headings that go something like "Chapter 1," "Chapter 2," "Chapter...am I on 4 yet?" "Chapter A," "Chapter 12 goes here now"... Well, you get the picture. I don't know what it is with those writers.

Josi said...

YOU have the power! go Annette!

Ajoy said...

You were afraid to jinx yourself huh? teehee

I could just see you pacing back and forth wondering if this was the right decision or not. hahahahahaha

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Huh . . . congratulations?

Janette Rallison said...

I hate figuring out where the chapters go!!! I usually just leave breaks and then figure out what is going to be a new chapter and what is going to just be a scene break, and somehow it never works out evenly. There is also always a huge scene or two that I have to break up just to make the chapters work.

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