Shall we chat about the importance of focus when writing chapters? I’ll assume you said yes.
Let me begin by saying that ever so selfishly, I love reviewing the work of other writers because it helps me to pinpoint issues in my own writing. For example, the other night I was reviewing a beautifully written story that I was really enjoying. However, after finishing a chapter, something didn’t feel quite right. Unfortunately, this was a familiar discomfort. Because I’d been having the same sense of ick after rereading a couple chapters that I’d rewritten in my own novel. The problem had to do with focus. The chapter I reviewed and those I had rewritten that day were not on track.
When I am writing a first draft of anything (even for a revision), I let my hair down and go with the flow. This is wild, crazy, big fun writing. Fine for a while, but sooner rather than later it’s time to grow up and get serious. Meaning, get focused. The hair gets pulled back and wrapped in an elastic and the work begins. When dealing with chapters, each and every one must be it’s own complete unit, right? The way every paragraph and sentence needs to stand on its own. Sure, they all need to be part of the greater whole, but each chapter needs to have a beginning, middle and end with some resolution. Otherwise, the focus gets fuzzy. I hate fuzzy unless it applies to baby animals. So it’s pure frustration for me to read my writing, already splattered with blood, sweat and tears, and realize that the intent is (gasp) blurry.
What to do when this happens? No, Windex is not the answer. Hacking is the answer. No matter how stellar the writing, if it does not further the forward thrust of the plot progression, I cut, chop, slice, dice. I rework and trim until the writing is focused.
What are your thoughts? As for me, I’m off to sharpen my knives and pull back my hair. I’ve got a couple more chapters that need my attention.