Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chapter Eight becomes . . .

. . . Chapter One! Yes. It. Did.

I'm gearing up to go into revise mode on a project. Rough Draft was completed a few years ago. Last year, I went back in and revamped the project and then set it aside while I worked on some other things. For the last few days I've been thinking about his project. Tuesday, things gelled together and I knew what I needed to do: Chapter Eight needed to become Chapter One.

Okay, so this means ditching approximately 20,000 words. Geesh, talk about word elimination.

Okay, it's really not that bad, and you'll find out more about that later.

Chapter Eight, now Chapter One, was an important chapter because it set up the main antagonists for my protagonist. Now, the first seven chapters laid the groundwork for Chapter Eight, but . . . well, after careful consideration, why not just throw the reader right into the conflict - wham, bam? Why not show the dynamics of the situation right off the bat?

Forget subtlety. Forget laying the careful groundwork. My protagonist has six antagonists. Yes, six, get over it! The main bulk of the project is the MC's interaction with the antagonists. So, since the main interaction is with these six secondary characters, why wait until Chapter Eight to throw them all together in the same room. Yes, I did that. One, two, three, four, five, six, and seven characters all in the same room, and no, their names aren't Doc, Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, Bashful, Happy, or Sneezy. Still, seven people, five at least who would, possibly literally, maybe only figuratively, love to see the MC dead, and a sixth who knows the MC could totally, irrevocably ruin their life, makes for a bit of interesting drama.

Now, back to those other chapters. The first part of this project has always been about confrontations between the main character and the majority of the secondary characters. The confrontations that occurred in Chapters One through Seven will need a bit of tweaking and reworking, but . . . they are not lost. They didn't land on some mysterious island when Oceanic Flight 815 crashed. They're still alive and well in this reality and not some purgatory on an island where they're trying to right past wrongs.

The confrontations in what were the earlier chapters are very important. Their importance remains the same. Now, I just have to revamp the chapters a bit to make them fit with the new opening since they occurred earlier in time (go figure) than Chapter Eight. A tweak here, there, and everywhere will - hopefully - fix everything and the Chapters can remain pretty much intact.

So, in the revision process, if you're stuck, if something's just not working, why not try shifting a later chapter, an action chapter, to the first chapter and see what happens. For me, magic!

Oh, and I'm still plugging along on the urban fantasy project. There are just times when I need to step away from that project, so editing/revising this other project fills the void in writing.



Amy Jo Lavin said...

Good for you! I've had several people tell me that my story starts on Chapter 13, but it scares me to drop the first 12 chapters! But maybe I'll try it, just to see how it works.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

That's great that you can jump between projects. I'm starting to be able to do that! What an interesting choice to fix things with your book. It sounds intense and drastic, but I've done changes like that before and it's amazing how well they can work.

Scott said...

Amy - if anything, save it as a new Doc, move Chapter 13 to Chapter 1 and see what happens. I'm not totally getting rid of the first seven chapters, just some of them, and the others I'm incorporating after the new Chapter One.

Michelle - I've been struggling with my writing lately, and the going back and forth between projects seems to keep me writing. Normally, in rough draft stage, I focus solely on the rough draft and don't do anything else. The urban fantasy is taking a bit more out of me, so I need a break every now and then, so . . . on to other projects. As to the switching of chapters, I've been thinking about that for a while and it just seems to work. The change throws both the MC and the reader right into the heart of the conflict. I think that's a good thing!