Posted by: nancycurteman | February 21, 2018

How to Get a Chapter Just Right

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One of the most frustrating things writers can experience is the inability to get a chapter just right. We try everything—revising setting, character descriptions and conflict, changing sentences, adding and removing paragraphs, rewriting the chapter. We even consider tossing out the whole chapter. But often we can’t because it’s integral to the plot so we have to labor through it. The problem is how to get the chapter right. Translation: how to get the chapter up to the level of perfection we want.

Before we explore some strategies that might help us get the chapter right, we should remember two old sayings: A writer who thinks his work is perfect is usually a bad writer and Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. With that in mind, here are some thoughts on how to get the chapter just right if not perfect.

  • Read your chapter aloud. This is a great way to diagnose problems. Maybe your rhythm is off or your character is acting or speaking out of character.
  • Write a synopsis of your chapter. This will allow you to see any elements in your scenes that slow the plot pace.
  • Critique groups help. Take your chapter to your group and ask them for ideas. Others can see what you don’t see.
  • Write mentally. Take a walk and add ideas and changes to your chapter in your mental computer.
  • Write the next chapter. Leave the troublesome chapter and keep going. Choose a new chapter to work on. Return to the problem chapter later.
  • Pause and rethink. Take a couple of days away from your chapter to recharge.
  • Calm your Inner Critic. Chances are your chapter is not as bad as you think. Remind your Inner Critic that you will fix problems in rewrites.

These are some strategies for getting the chapter just right. If you have some ideas I’d love it if you would share them with my readers.


More Tips:

Writing is Rewriting and Editing
Revising and Rewriting a Novel is no Mystery

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