Am Writing Chapter 9

I’m trying something new this week, which is to write about my writing. Maybe other people can benefit from the results of my experiments. Please tell me if you like it and I’ll keep doing it 🙂

1) As per instructions from Lisa Cron’s Story Genius, I rewrote the Centuries Unlimited outline to look like this:

Chapter 9: Ruth decides to let Emily order her around. (Emily: Decides she is the member of this group best placed to lead it. Sam: Decides to trust Vivek and Ruth. Vivek: Decides Ruth is in over her head and needs firepower) The Plot: Ruth and Vivek have breakfast with Sam and Emily in their private cabin. As the train travels, Sam gives a summary of the situation in Knickerbocker. Vivek says they should confront Emily’s family, which Ruth sees as just another example of down-time bullying. The Consequence: The two argue about how he handled William (bullying), but Emily interrupts. Emily asks Ruth what she suggests, and when Ruth says she wants to canvass Chicago orphanages, Emily decides to split the difference and use Vivek and Ruth as high tech leverage to get the cooperation of the police. When Ruth tells Vivek to stay with Sam, Emily informs her that she needs Vivek and Sam, much as she needs Ruth. Why it matters: Ruth’s previous bosses tried to control her, not help her. The Realization: Emily might be the boss that Ruth needs. And so: Ruth agrees to let Vivek and Sam tag along.

Most of that stuff (everything but the chapter summary at the beginning) is stuff I actually need include in the text of the chapter, so I underlined it.

3) I took the Why it matters material and wrote some internal dialogue that reflects it, as well as some scene description.

4) I took all the other underlined material and pasted it into my story document like this:
>Ruth and Vivek have breakfast
>with Sam and Emily
>in their private cabin
>As the train travels
>Sam gives a summary of the situation in Knickerbocker.

5) I pasted the internal dialogue and scene descriptions into places that looked appropriate.

6) Starting at the >prompt at the END of the chapter, I wrote text that reflected it (dialogue, description, narration etc.) Then I worked my way up to the beginning.

Or tried to. What actually happened was I got stuck about halfway through the chapter and had to go to the beginning and write forward until I hit the middle again.

The reason I worked backward was because I wanted to stop myself from getting bored and ending the chapter prematurely (a common problem). Unfortunately, what I ended up doing this way was to end the chapter LATE. The place where I got stuck was the natural place to end the chapter, but writing from what I thought would be the end, I didn’t know that. Having finished the chapter, I realized I had to cut off the second half. Hopefully I’ll be able to use that material later.

Working backwards also caused problems with continuity of emotions in the reader and characters as well as the cause and effect of things happening in the environment. It also muddied my picture of the pacing. Luckily, my wife said “ugh! Are they STILL arguing?” right at the natural end of the chapter, which gave me the clue I needed that I’d made a mistake.

So my lessons for the next chapter: don’t write it backwards. However the Cron method with the outline worked, so I’m going to keep doing that, focusing first on dialog, then going back in and adding everything else. Wish me luck 🙂

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