Should This Chapter Be Called ‘Girding Your Loins’, ‘Possible Death’ or ‘Dead Cheerful’?

Posted on 31/07/2012 by

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Me: I cannot have a chapter entitled ‘You pay in blood’ followed by one called ‘Blood on your hands’. That’s just wrong.
Arkem: Blood around my digits.
Me: Oddly enough it’s not the word ‘hands’ that causing the problem.
Arkem: Viscous red goo that I cannot explain.
Me: Yes, thank you. Very helpful.*

I am trying to break the book down into chapters. It is making me crazy. Not least because I’ve done this before. Once upon a time this book had chapters. And then I added 20 000 words to the book by just dropping the scenes in the correct place in the sequence.

screen shot of in-progress group of chapters with several headings missing but scene titles visible

See the elusive scene titles below empty chapter lines, normally unseen by man or woman or anyone. Because they are terrible and scare people.

This leaves me with ridiculous chapters that are three or four times the length of the ones on either side and I’m left wondering if I can possibly justify making a chapter only three hundred words long. I mean, obviously I could. I could make a chapter that was one word long. But I’d have to have a reason. A stylistic statement or a plot device or something other than I-hate-my-book-and-chapters-are-hard. That’s not a reason, it’s a tantrum. And while this process may be turning me into a frustrated two year old I’m trying not to get any of the rage on the book.

 Me: Oh god, now I need to name this chapter.
Arkem: Well there’s a good title right there.
Me: I cannot name the chapter that.
Arkem: No, I was thinking of truncating it to make it a little less meta.
Me: Oh god?
Arkem: How about, Oh god, now I need to…
Me: I think that might incite unrealistic expectations.
Arkem: Is this the chapter where they do laundry? Because I can see people being disappointed then.
Me: There is no laundry in this chapter. There’s actually no laundry in the entire book. There’s also no kissing.
Arkem: Wait, no kissing and no laundry? What is this book about?

Right. At this moment the chapter is entitled, ’New folder’. How much worse could it get?

screenshot of a group of chapter titles that read: 'Double-cross the villain', 'Scream for mercy', 'No plan is perfect'

 

* The advantage (disadvantage?) of having someone working in the same room as you is that when you make dramatic exclamations of woe they reply.