Wednesday, July 19, 2006

CHAPTER THREE...

If writing a book can be described in terms of giving birth, Chapter Three is morning sickness.

I’ve done all the fun stuff (no sniggering at the back!), the research, the world building. I’ve written the back story, dug deep for the angst that will fuel the internal conflict, trolled through Google to find images that fit my characters.

I’ve had the excitement of writing the beginning. Getting the hero and heroine on paper. That first connection. The story starting to unfold.

Then comes Chapter Three.

I don’t know why the awfulness of it always takes me by surprise. It happens every time and in a way it’s inevitable. So much has happened in those first 50-odd pages, but now that first rush of excitement has evaporated. Doubt sets in. Is this rubbish? I send what I’ve written to my birthing partner (otherwise known as my editor), because this is a big project and I want it to be right – but she’s moving house; she’ll get back to me, but not soon enough to talk me through the pain.

Writing the crime novel that I started seven years ago suddenly looks like a much more rewarding prospect (but then I never did get to chapter three). Actually, forget writing anything. What I need is displacement activity. I print a photograph of Hugh Jackman. I make an appointment to have my hair cut. I discover a sociability that utterly deserts me when the writing it going well. Even cutting the lawn becomes a deeply appealing occupation. I write a post for my blog. (I deleted all games from my work computer the day I brought it home – I learned that one the hard way!)

When I’ve wasted an entire week, I try reminding myself how it was when I wrote The Marriage Miracle. That I started in the wrong place. Had at least three attempts at getting Matty and Sebastian on the page together before it fell into place. (I always try something complicated first and have to hone it down to perfect simplicity.) As a tactic it’s useless. It’s the childbirth thing, again. The minute my editor calls to say the book has been scheduled, I forget the pain.

I even know – in theory – what the problem is. It’s the end of the beginning. My character has made life changing decisions. Taken the first steps. Now it’s time to move forward. But, like Belle Davenport, I’m not finding it as easy as I’d hoped.

11 comments:

Fiona Harper said...

I don't have as many chapter threes under my belt as you have, Liz, but I am definitely afflicted with the same disease.

I also suffer from Chapter eight-itis. In pregnancy terms, it would be the point when everything is uncomfortable, you don't know what you're going to do with yourself and it seems as if the darn thing is going to go on forever.

Liz Fielding said...

Fiona, when I get Chapter eight-itis I just type a list of everything that has to happen between that point and The End, then write each scene and delete it from the list.

I guess that's what I need to do now, but somehow it doesn't work quite as well this early in the book!

Liz Fielding said...

Delete "just" from that last post!

allyblake said...

I've hit chapter eight-itis right now Fiona! So instead I jumped right over thre top of it, leaving it a blithering mess of trailing sentences and half thoughts as I leapt right into chapter te...ish.

I wrote up a storm yesterday as I figured out the resolution, which has now given me lots of clues as to what I need to do in chapter eight!

But naturally this will NOT work on the next book. the same tricks never do ;).

Natasha said...

Remind me, why *exactly* do we do this to ourselves???

Liz Fielding said...

For that wonderful moment when the postman brings you a box of newly minted books with your name on it. And the royalties!

I've now finished Chapter Three. A week late. Well, I've got to the end of it, anyway. And had fun with my hero going all "alpha" -- I usually write "gamma" heroes -- and my heroine responding with a dumb blonde routine. Most satisfying!

Phillipa said...

Liz- I've solved this by having twice as many chapters in the new book...puts off the chapter 3 problem for quite a while.:)

Liz Fielding said...

I can see how that would work, Phillipa! My first three chapters are rather long' I do often find I do that and re-jig the chapters so that voila, I have four chapters instead of three. :)

Phillipa said...

Liz - yes, it was tongue-in-cheek about the chapters but I have amde sure that there is a really big moment at the chapter 3-ish stage in the book. I find however that this one is being written in a very different way to the first for all kinds of reasons. And I hear you have BIG news about a certain book for us...

Adrian Weston said...

What about Mid-Life Crisis? Perhaps it's a male thing - but I get to half way and then spend a month rewriting chapters one-three (with which I never have a problem) - I have a trunk full of books stuck at midlife crisis point. Perhaps this is why I've ended up writing children's fiction?

Liz Fielding said...

Adrian, rewriting chaps 1-3 is part of the job. It's where you get to know your characters and I keep going back to add in stuff. But there does come a point when you have to tiptoe over the step into chapter four. I have been known shuffle my chapters so that I magically have half of chapter four without ever having to actually start it. This works! But congratulations with the children's stories. They aren't easier (I know I've written them) just different.