Friday, February 12, 2010

Thanks, Terry. . .

Terry Pratchett says that his books don't have chapters because life doesn't have chapters.

Fair point. I think I had read three Pratchett books before I noticed the lack of chapters so he may be on to something.

I didn't write my current WIP with chapters either. I didn't plan it that way - it just made more sense to divide it by time-sections. All this stuff happens in the same year, then we fade out and it's two years later, then we fade out and it's four years later again. . . there were natural divisions, but they weren't chapter-shaped.

Until some of the divisions got kinda long, and now I'm doing one of the most thankless tasks know to writer-kind - figuring out where the chapters are.

It's thankless for two reasons. Either the divisions are obvious (this happens 98% of the time), so all you can think is 'Why didn't I just do this the first bloody time round? Now I have to remember whether I typed Chapter 27 or Chapter 28 seven pages ago!'

Or else they're not.

I have a single page, which spans a month. I feel it wants to stay in the book, but at one page long, it can't be a chapter. It can't be squished into the chapter before it, because it ends with quite a big 'goodbye' moment, nor can it be merged with the chapter after it, because that starts with someone going into labour (really, is there a more textbook 'beginning' moment?).

One solution would be to open with the labour, flashback to sum up the last month, and then keep going. As in:
Rosie was lucky. The pains didn't start at night.
She had been in a strange state for the last month. . .

But I do that all the fecking time, and sometimes I have to, because my novel makes such big temporal jumps. I'm not sure this extract quite merits doing it again.

So I feel it has to go. I'll read through it, pick out the important bits and slot them in after the labour starts - assuming that Rosie has enough time to think about them, that is, what with being in labour :)

2 comments:

  1. Hi

    But can't chapters be just one page? There can't be a page limit to a chapter could there? A chapter can be half a page? Can't they? Can't your month be a chapter? Shame to get rid of it if it adds to the overall story?

    Oh now you see I'm most confused and need to consult the fab Mr Pratchett...!

    :-)

    GOOD LUCK working out your chapters!

    Take care
    x

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  2. Kitty, I definitely think they can, and I've read books with short chapters - and chapters of varying lengths - that worked really well. But my chapters tend to be reasonably long and one very short one just seems wrong in this particular story. . .

    I will be trying to keep it if I can, but it has been earmarked for demolition if it doesn't work . . . poor thing, but I think most of the atmosphere of it can be worked in elsewhere.

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