Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Amazing Disappearing Chapter

At the beginning of the month I set out some goals for myself for my editing and planning.  The planning I'm ahead on.  I've completed one novel (the planning stages) that wasn't supposed to be done until the end of the month and started another one that shouldn't have been started until October, so I'm pretty happy with that.

The editing, though, hasn't been going so well.  I was doing fine until I came to a chapter that I had to rewrite.  I knew what I wanted there, but every time I sat down to write it I felt like it was going absolutely no where.

What did I do?  I procrastinated.  I assumed that eventually I would figure it out and get it done, and I continued on blissfully unaware of just how much time was slipping away while I allowed this chapter to just sit there and taunt me.

The other night, though, I decided that was enough of that and sat down seriously to finish writing it.

I wrote about 120 words in a half an hour.  120 words.  That's about what I write in 2 minutes, not half and hour.

At the end of that, I decided that it was time to figure out why it just wasn't working.

I looked at the chapter before it, which ended with my main character frustrated and feeling the need to just get out of the house.  Then I looked at the chapter after, which had my main character trying to work out that frustration with the use of a punching bag.  Then I looked back at the chapter I was trying to rewrite where my main character did something that had to be done eventually, but ultimately put there changed the pacing and tone of the novel too much.

So, I did the only thing I could do.  I took out the chapter.

Don't get me wrong, this wasn't an easy decision for me.  I didn't want to lose the words.  I know how long I want this novel to be by the end of this process, and right now it's about 3k below that goal, and that's all thanks to this chapter.

It was frustrating to watch it go, because I've been trying to make the thing work for so damn long, but I knew I had to let it go for the good of the book.

Sometimes chapters or scenes that we originally write just don't end up working, especially after revisions and changes.  It's hard to hit that delete button, because that's work that we did.  We wrote those words, and now we're watching them disappear knowing that we're not planning on replacing them.  But we can't just leave them there.  If we do, it makes the book less than it could be, and ultimately that's what we want more than anything in the world.

So with a heavy heart I will say good bye to that chapter, and continue editing the rest of the book (which needs to be done in 7 days!  Eep!).  At least now I can move past that chapter and actually make some progress on it.

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