What does a chapter consist of?

Discussion in 'Writing' started by RedMage, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,506
    Likes Received:
    80
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Writing. For a living. Hoo. Hoohah. Hoo Hoo Hah.

    Hey, want to see a neat trick? Watch me make this royalty check disappear.

    Waiter! Another latte please!

    Kerry
     
  2. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Messages:
    584
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    53
    But that's not what you said. You said that anyone who wrote for a living didn't have any other skills. I agree with the part that it's very difficult to earn a living writing but I don't think that all successful writers are incompetent at everything else.
     
  3. RedMage

    RedMage There is no tomorrow

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Messages:
    1,821
    Likes Received:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    98
    It's an understandable quote, Goldhawk. You say you understand the quote when you say you "agree that it is very difficult to earn a living by writing." That is what Jon meant and that quote means and you know it.

    Do I have other skills? Yes. Do I enjoy writing? Yes. Do my other skills contribute to my writing, both in terms of intangible concepts and the physical act of writing? Yes. Do I want to try to use those skills to write something that will be more than just entertainment for myself? Yes. Am I pursuing that option? Yes.

    If I were more interested in advertising, or taking care of people in some capacity in the field of medicine, or starting my own business selling power tools or car parts, or a thousand other things, then I would do that. But I am interested in telling stories. Thankfully, I enjoy it too. But it is hard work and it takes numerous skills to do it. And a lot of writers have many, many different skills in many, many different areas. Why? Because even though they may not practice those skills on a daily basis in their lives as writers, they still need to have the skills and be able to perform them so that they may properly relate them in their writing when such skills are needed.

    So stop fretting. Neither Jon nor the originator of that quote are calling you stupid or incapable. They are just saying that writing is hard and that the business is fickle and that if you are wanting to make a living, you may find it easier to do in another field.


    Now, let's get back on topic. There have been some great replies, very awesome and helpful. I have allowed myself to work on Book 2 and I was able to complete the first scene I started weeks ago, come up with an idea for the next that I need to gather some information before I can write it, and I was able just a few minutes ago to write about half of that book's third scene. It would be great to hear anyone else's ideas on what chapters consist of. Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  4. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Messages:
    584
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    53
    Yes, I know it. I was making the point that what he wrote could be interpreted differently than what he meant. And as for my ego, it's inflated enough so I'm not bother by what anyone says.
     
  5. RedMage

    RedMage There is no tomorrow

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Messages:
    1,821
    Likes Received:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    98
    Ok. Sorry. I didn't think you were trying to clarify for the benefit of others but now I see that that is what you were doing. Thanks for setting me straight and I do apologize.
     
  6. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Messages:
    584
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    53
    No need to apologize. As I said, as for my ego, it's inflated enough so I'm not bother by what anyone says. No need to worry about that.
     
  7. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,517
    Likes Received:
    100
    Trophy Points:
    183
    It could be interpreted that way perhaps, but what is actually meant is compulsion. There is very little incentive financially or even social status wise to try to write fiction. It is the ultimate waste of time. And yet lots and lots of people are obsessed with doing it, spending their time on it, etc. People writing fiction voluntarily enter a delusional dreamland that they construct out of written words. Then they hope that other people will like it and maybe pay them money for it. But that's not really the main goal because there are an enormously numerous other, easier ways to make some money (maybe not rich money, but living money,) and have people like you than attempting to write fiction. You write fiction mostly alone, possibly in a tiny room or closet or instead of enjoying your lunch break. You write because there's an impulse to do it. And it may produce literally nothing useful. Even what we used to call the pro authors back when there was a lot of churn out of wholesale paperbacks under group pseudonyms, the authors who would write westerns, romances, mysteries, horror, etc. for hire, ten books a year, a hundred books on the resume -- there are much easier ways to make money. They had a compulsion to do that. The SFF writers in the sixties and seventies didn't just write SFF -- they wrote romances, westerns, true crime, whatever might get them a pub and maybe make them some money. Apparently they all tried their hand at soft porn, because it was good, quick cash. (Points for anyone who has read Ursula Le Gun's porn novel.) And yet, for all their need for money, they did something that was very bad at generating money -- writing fiction. Quite often they did other things too, things that made them more money. Glen Cook worked for GE. Many were journalists or teachers. But they kept writing fiction that only a tiny portion of the population would ever read. Why? It's not a sane thing.

    Even the readers of fiction are being compulsive. There's no reason to read fiction. There's no social status connected to reading fiction. (Being well learned, i.e. non-fiction, sure, but fiction, not really.) People do not respond to ads that offer shiny futures and social status for purchase like they do with iPhones and designer jeans. Your boss might care what business guide you've read; your boss does not care what fiction you read. Reading fiction never makes you cool. It has no utilitarian function. It does not get you anything. Millions of English majors are considered unlikely to be employed. It is simply a communication -- a highly imperfect, subjective, interpretive one. And so this is what makes the fiction book market completely counter-intuitive, completely useless when it comes to most marketing, and, while a handful of authors make a nice bit of money and bookstores use fiction to bring in customers (while making their profit off of non-fiction,) there's not really a lot of money in fiction publishing. It has tiny profit margins and tries to float the gains to cover the newbies, because otherwise there wouldn't be any newbies.

    It's not a rational business. It's not illogical, but it's not wise, it's not fair, it's certainly not clear cut -- and it's not competitive, which really freaks folks out. And so authors writing fiction are engaged in a dance of practicality and alchemy, in a delusion that is unique to each one's own brain. You're using neurons that have really been helpful for humans on the visualization for survival adaptation front, but you're not actually using them for that purpose, at least not directly. So yes, the first things in your head of your active daydream are going to be gobbleygook. A chapter can be part of the dreamworld, so the chapter you will have to figure out where it goes in your dreamworld. And someone saying, "this is how I did it in my dreamworld" may be helpful, but someone saying, "this is how you should do it in your dreamworld" is not. Because even if you want to do it, it simply may not fit in your irrational dreamworld.

    Even if you are a dreamland constructor who plans everything out first, with an outline, a map, a publication goal, etc., you are still in writing the fiction exploring on a journey of the unknown of your brain -- and the planning you do before writing is part of that journey as well. And we like doing it. That's the only reason we do it. We want to try it, we like it, we like the idea of it. And even if you have very concrete goals, you may go nowhere with it. But the itch is there. So there's no use fuming if your brain is not being cooperative or rational. Instead, you'll have to see if you can do a workaround, just like when you find the bridge is washed out on a trip.
     
  8. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Messages:
    584
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    53
    Well, I consider any use of your imagination worthwhile, and the more esoteric the things you think about, the better. Thinking about living on another planet or in a land where magic works, makes you more flexible about thinking outside the box when trying to solve everyday problems. I don't think reading fiction, or writing it, is a waste of time. :)
     
  9. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,313
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Getting back on topic!

    How we use chapters depends on how creative we are, and what our purpose is for a particular book or story. In one book we might have a lot of very short chapters, in another a few long chapters. We can have titles, or not. Titles can be meaningful to readers, or not. They can be numbered, or not, and the numbers may include a letter.

    My Shapechanger Tales series is alternate history. To give a more "historical" feel each chapter has a date, though not terribly specific. Such as "Spring 1864" or "Fall 1865 - Spring 1866." In one book every chapter has the date. In another I only put the date up when it's different than that of the previous chapter.

    I also give each chapter a place name, again not terribly specific. Such as "Puerto Rico, Ponce City" or "Mediterranean west of Corsica." Again in some books every chapter has a place name, in others only if the place changes.

    When I give meaningful names to chapters I tend to make them short. In "Sea Monster's Revenge" two successive chapters are "Girl Lost" and "Girl Found." Another writer (or I in different books) may give chapters names that are quite long, perhaps whimsical such as "the chapter where Mr. Froggy MacFrog gets lost in a merry-go-whirlpool."

    We can also give titles to subsections of chapters. In my YA "Adventures of a Semi-Supermodel" Chapter Two has five subsections/subchapters. Here they are. (The numbers are part of the subchapter title.)

    So, again, we are creatives. Artists. We use our tools creatively, and for a purpose - though sometimes the purpose may be obscure. Even to us!
     
  10. RedMage

    RedMage There is no tomorrow

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Messages:
    1,821
    Likes Received:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    98
    Good points here, Laer. Thank you. I actually decided to use that very "date as chapter title" system in what I am writing now. I only have the one chapter at the moment, and it is not done at all, but I think the date will help me maintain focus on what is currently happening and what needs to happen at this point in the story.

    I have an update on my status of all this. I have written about 20 pages of Book 2 of this story, developed and noted down more ideas for further stories, and I am currently consumed with the question of which supernatural/mythological/normal entity/person is to be the antagonist for Book 2 and how it all plays out. I have also decided upon a title for it yesterday, which is very nice now that I can call it something other than the vague nomen of "Book 2". Not to mention I am excited at having an actual title :)

    Further, I received Bill O'Hanlon's Write is a Verb in the mail today. I have had it for about 4 hours now and I have read it for maybe 2.5 hours. I am somewhere in the middle of chapter 1 and I am enjoying what O'Hanlon is saying immensely and pausing quite often for reflection on this or that. Virangelus, I know, will be glad about this ;)

    The most recent piece I read from this book was about motivation for writing. I remember all the monthly writing goal threads on here that Vira, tmso, myself and many others used to participate in. They were a lot of fun and, for a long time, very motivational for me. This book talked about having that motivation and, for some, it can help to make a public announcement of a proposed goal. I do not want to begin the monthly goal threads on this forum again just now as they ended for a particular reason and I don't think anything has changed about that. But I did create and printed off a calendar for September to put on my locker at work. I'm not sure what my goals are yet, but making a commitment to a set of goals and having others be aware of them has been very helpful to me in the past. By the end I may not achieve the goals I set but I know I will at least have made an effort to achieve them.

    So that's all some very good news! I also purchased Stephen King's On Writing and I should be receiving that within the next few days. I'm excited to read both books and surprised really at my reaction so far to the O'Hanlon. Yay, can't wait for more!