A few weeks ago I posted my writing resolutions for 2012, which included the plan to write 2 chapters a week. While I’ve been working on my second novel quite zealously, I haven’t managed to make my chapter quota even once. I’m not quite ready to abandon this goal yet, but it’s probably a good idea to consider why I’m not managing to write 2 chapters a week.
1. What is a chapter anyway?
Seeing as a chapter doesn’t really have an official definition, having a goal of two chapters a week isn’t all that clearly defined. Of course, for the sequel to Gift of the Destroyer I have a detailed outline complete with chapter numbering and a word goal, which brings us to a little over 3000 words per chapter, making my goal around 6000 words a week. This is doable, at least in theory.
Most chapters in Gift of the Destroyer are comparable in length. Some run a bit longer, some a bit shorter. The sequel is a bit more chaotic in this regard, or more accurately has a greater deviation per chapter.
2. What goes in a chapter?
My outline has a synopsis for each chapter, with several events and points of character development listed for each. I rarely deviate from this outline, and the greatest change I’ve done so far is re-order a number of events between two consecutive chapters. Of course, the outline has gone through a number of revisions already, so I’m fairly certain any further changes remain minimal.
But even with these "hints" already in place, it’s not always easy to figure out what to write next. For the past few weeks, I’ve been having a lot of trouble making character dialogue become convincing. One character in particular is proving to be troublesome, mainly because he is in a rather unique situation considering his origins and family history, which puts him at odds with certain other characters for a variety of reasons.
3. Pivotal moment
At the time of posting the writing resolutions, I was nearing the end of act 1. This is quite a pivotal moment in the story, and as such much harder to write than certain other chapters. As such, my writing speed is currently a lot lower than usual. I expect to speed up in the next few weeks, and to hit a similar problem when I reach the midpoint. I had a similar problem with Gift of the Destroyer, but as I got nearer to the end, the story became easier to write as all the hard building up had already been done. This is partially caused by the way these stories usually come into being. It usually starts with one or more main characters popping up in my head, with certain issues that affect the world around them. From these issues the central conflict emerges, and from there on the climactic confrontation comes, and usually the start of the story as well. The middle of the story usually comes last, but arises from the central conflict.
As such, the climax of each story exists before the stuff leading up to it. I write stories in a linear fashion, so I’ve personally been living up to the climax for quite some time before I write it. As such, I already know most of what I’m going to write at the end of a book, including dialogue. The same usually goes for the start, but the first half of the second act is usually the hardest for me, as this is the part that I figure out last (since I usually work backwards from the climax). This is also the reason why I’m slow at the moment.
I still hope to have a draft for the sequel done in a few months, but as of yet I have no idea if I’m going to make it. I will definitely try.