Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Are You Ready For Chapter Two?

Chapter One was easy. Not so Chapter Two...
Well, hello Chapter Two. I’ve never met a beast like you before. Normally chapters are simple and planned, with two or three characters and a defining incident, ideally following on and explaining the inciting incident of chapter one. I understand them. I’m good at them (sort of). At the very least, I’m not afraid of them.

Not you. You’re a problem for me. I don’t hate you, but you puzzle and confuse me. And you are playing on me the kind of dirty tricks that no plot — let alone a chapter — should ever be allowed to play upon ann innocent author.

For a start, you have cursed me with a heroine who is in a confused state, suffering from hypothermia. She doesn’t know what’s going on. And as I am writing in the first person, you leave me with no opportunity to explain to my readers. She has fallen among strangers (who, thank God, are kind to her). But she has no idea who they are, what they’re doing or why they are doing it and, indeed, doesn’t either see or take in a whole lot of what’s going on. I know, but she doesn’t. And if she can’t tell the reader, then I can’t. Her brain is a crazed mess of feelings and images, suddenly-sharp, unconnected snapshots against a blurred and incomprehensible background. It’s a mess. To read, and to write.

Thanks a lot, Chapter Two.

That’s only the first of your dastardly tricks. There are a lot of strangers — six, in fact, every one of them a new character. She can’t even tell these people apart herself, in the half-light of a power outage and her own confused state. They throw their names at her and she fails to field a single one. So how will my readers know which one is which?

I might be able to handle that. Just. But no. To make matters worse, your co-conspirator, Chapter One, warned me off adding any backstory on his turf. Chapter One is all about action. My mate will deal with the backstory, he said, and set up the perfect opportunity. When our heroine falls among these kindly strangers, they want to know who she is, how she came to be there. You have put the poor girl in a frankly crazy position and she has to explain to these strangers how she came to be there and where she ought to be. (Oh, and some of the things which we’ve already seen happen to her in Chapter One). Further: she may not care, right at that moment, who they are but my readers do.

You’re a challenge to me, but not one I’ll back away from. I’m up for the fight. 

In the red corner, the author. In the blue corner, Chapter Two.

Seconds out…ding-ding!

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