Friday, April 9, 2010
My new book doesn't have chapters. It is divided, instead, into sections. Four of them, that I've planned so far. It has been an interesting thing, too, to work this way. I feel like I've suddenly been freed from a prison I didn't know existed around me.
Chapters - Blah!
Sections - Getting better
Scenes - YES
I believe structure plays a huge part in the way our creative brain churns out a story. With the three complete novels I have written so far, all have been split into chapters. I wrote within the confines of these chapters, and I allowed those confines to control how I treated POV, plot structure, scene structure, even how I ultimately shaped my characters. It feels like my books are split up into these little boxes, and that can be a good and a bad thing.
You can stack boxes into different shapes. After all, pixels are just little squares.
I know several writers who don't write within chapters at all. They just write and write and write until they have their 80 or 100,000 words, and then maybe they'll split the book up into chapters. Or leave it.
With this new work of mine, I feel freer. I'm writing the book by scenes, and each one can dramatically vary in length and it doesn't feel like an issue at all. When I write in chapters, I tend to slice the book up like a pizza, trying to get each slice the same size. It's my organized nature that does this, and so freeing myself of the pizza cutter altogether, I'm just picking off the toppings and piling them up on my plate, or maybe I'll just cut the pizza in two, or just eat it all with a fork.
I think sometimes we let the structure of our writing get in the way of our writing. We think of pizza and one image comes to mind - a perfect circle cut into triangles. I've enjoyed experimenting lately, finding new ways to compose a narrative. It is thrilling to see what this does for my characters, how it shapes them different from if I was writing in a stricter structure. I'm literally trying to think outside the box, and even if in the end, the book still feels structured in the traditional manner, I'll know that it didn't begin that way.
How do you structure your WIPs as you begin them? Do you always stick with chapters? Do you think this restricts elements of your characters and narrative?