Sequence of Events
In March, it will be two years since I started editing my manuscript, two bloody years of my life that seems both very long and not long at all in the scheme of things. I finally reached the second last chapter, the illustrious chapter 41 a few weeks ago. As with every other chapter during this rewrite, I had a clean paper copy of the chapter, a chapter summary listing the chapter’s pertinent information and a brief summary of its contents and then a stack of notes pertaining to the chapter.
Chapter 41 has the most notes. Let me count them.
Thirty-three, there are thirty-three pieces of paper covered in my scribble to help guide me through this chapter.
For every other chapter I started by reading the hard copy and marking the crap out of it with things I wanted to change. Then I went through my notes quickly to see what meshed. Happily, much of the time the changes I felt I wanted to make were in line with the changes I originally thought the chapter needed, that made life a little bit easier.
I make the changes I made on the paper copy first. That can take an hour or a few weeks depending on the nature of said changes. Once I’m done that, I go through the notes again, one by one, putting the notes I’ve dealt with into a pile, and contemplating the rest and making more changes if I feel they are warranted. If I don’t make the suggested change, I write that I didn’t make that change and why I didn’t on the paper and put it in the dealt with pile. This is how I’ve been going along.
For some reason when I originally wrote chapter 41, I did a crappy job. Chapter 41 is the climax and even during my first draft I suspected that whatever happened within its borders would probably change at least somewhat as the book grew and changed. I suppose that’s why I just sketched it out and did a crappy job. It was weird though, in a manuscript that had needed work, but was at least complete, this odd, sore thumb chapter, so poorly written, a shoddy skeleton missing essential bones and flesh and everything else. I was disappointed. This is the climax, after all, this is it, what four years of work has been building too, what all of these words have been leading toward, and then…nothing, just an um, yep and then some stuff happens, next! I don’t know why I do these things to myself.
Thankfully, I have thirty-three pages of notes to help me out.
I went through my usual chapter rewriting routine. By this point, the climax is pretty secure in my brain, if not on paper, so I wasn’t too worried. Maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t originally write some long, drawn out affair that I would now just have to trash as my story has developed, maybe I am an awesome ninja that actually subconsciously suspected that all along, I don’t know. Things went a long all right, but then I got stuck for a while, stuck on the sequence of events.
I knew everything I wanted to happen in the chapter, that had been slowing solidifying itself as I worked on the rest of the book. When I got there though, chapter 41, and went to rewrite it, I wasn’t sure what order I wanted things to happen in. I got stuck on this for a few days.
I’m not sure how I figured it out, I really don’t know how my writing brain works. I took a lot of hot showers, stared blankly out a lot of windows, walked my dogs aimlessly around the neighbourhood, but eventually I just realized what the order was. I played the scenario out in my brain over and over again with differing orders of events and just stumbled idiotically on the one that was right. Sometimes I wonder how much I have to do with this process at all.
Through a fluke at work I ended up having almost a week off right as I came to chapter 41, sometimes the writing gods are kind. That got me through the bulk of it. I wrote it out, rewrote it, rewrote it a few more times, tweaked it, spend two days reading the entire book all the way through to make sure that when you hit chapter 41, that sucker delivers. I only have six pages of notes left dealing with this chapter. I hope to finish it by the end of next week. Chapter 41 is the climax and should in many ways be the best chapter in the book. Maybe after all of this it will be, but then again, maybe not. Sometimes the writing gods are cruel.