Incomplete Chapters

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One thing I have learned over the course of writing several manuscripts is that if you take a break in the middle of a chapter, you’ll usually wind up rewriting the whole thing.

The reason you feel compelled to take a break is that something is not working. Why do I say that? Well, if the writer is bored, then what will happen when someone else reads it? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

A perfect chapter doesn’t necessarily continue the action from the previous chapter, but it must build on the story line, otherwise it is unnecessary. If there are several threads to the plot, it must connect with one of them somewhere. Early in the novel chapters may establish a character or two – perhaps an important relationship hinting of a conflict later on. However, when a writer is composing any chapter he or she may not necessarily know where the story is headed at that point. Characters tend to tell their own tale. If they didn’t present you, the author, with details and background it wouldn’t be much of a novel. Also, you could tell the entire story as a brief synopsis.

What works for me is using an outline after the fact of writing a draft. That is not to say that from the outset I don’t have a vague idea where the story is headed. Occasionally the outcome that seemed inevitable to me as I began to write turns out to be a red herring or at least a wrong assumption. It is important to allow the characters to tell their stories in their own ways and not force them into a corner or shackle them with your expectations. Although some of the characters may use your logic and generally do what you might do in an given situation, the best characters are those who do the unexpected and are the antithesis of the author, or at least a fabrication of his per her darker side.

Which brings me back on point. If you leave a chapters incomplete to take a break in the middle, whenever you return, go back to the beginning of the chapter and read the story. Fix whatever caused the trouble and then move on. Very often your characters will show you what the problem was. Their dialogue may have been strained or their actions inconsistent with their character profile. Something is amiss. Fix that and the flow and interest will be restored.

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About ElgonWilliamsAuthor

Professional author and publicist with Pandamoon Publishing. Author of Fried Windows. The Wolfcat Chronicles, Becoming Thuperman, The Attributes and One Over X. Currently live in Orlando, 3 adult children, divorced.
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