Save those Chapters!

You know one of the hardest things about being a writer? Let me give you an example. You’ve spent a month writing a really great five or six page chapter. It has verisimilitude. The characters are “real,” they speak like normal people. There is tension, conflict, suspense. It is just one of the greatest pieces of prose you have ever written.

And you have to cut it out of your novel. Boy, that hurts. But in the general stream of the book, you have to admit that it SLOWS DOWN THE ACTION.

You can’t allow that. Yes, I know it is like throwing out the baby. It is like killing kittens. It hurts – but it must go.

I think it was Elmore Leonard who said, “I write a novel, and then I take out the parts people won’t read.” That simplistic outlook is one of the most important lessons you can learn as an aspiring author.

This practice is what old-time Editors did for their writers. They either re-wrote or ruthlessly cut the parts of a novel that slowed down the action. Of course there aren’t any great editors any more so the cutting is up to you. A novel has a certain rhythm to it which must be maintained. A slow but gradual build up, a middle where the action accelerates and then the denouement. Your story trails off to tie up the loose ends, hopefully leaving an opening for another in the series.

Anything that interrupts or impedes that rhythm has to go, no matter how great your prose is. However, any good author NEVER throws away anything. Take that beautiful chapter and stick in the bottom drawer. Who knows when it may serve as the gem for another novel or maybe a really good short story. Now, doesn’t that make you feel better?

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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