Thursday, April 28, 2011

Regulating the chapters

So far this week the work has gone like I planned it. Two days off for other stuff, and two days on the book. I worked on that troublesome section like I planned -- on paper and then on the screen -- and since then have been sweeping up other messes.

Mainly I've been following through on some ideas for how the chapters are organized. I think a couple drafts ago I noted that I had chapters as short as 4 pages and as long as 22. I got things a lot better organized than that awhile ago, but I still have as of now a range of 8 to 18, with a bigger stronger cluster around 11 pages. Before this morning I had gotten it down from 32 chapters to 27 chapters.

I had been considering the idea that my first chapter should really be positioned as a preface, and I made that change today. In addition to renumbering everything, it meant fussing a little with the tone in the openings of the preface and the new chapter 1.

And I had been considering re-slicing the breaks between some other chapters, which I went ahead with today. That leaves me with 24 numbered chapters plus the preface for a total of 25.

Meanwhile, every time I make these changes, I'm revising my outline. Too OCD, maybe, but it makes me feel better to know it's up to date. It includes details on page-length of each chapter, which changes whenever I combine or break chapters.

Thus I know the spread that I detailed above, and I know the flow is much more regulated. It also shows me some opportunities for revision. I had two chapters that are 18 pages long. They weren't necessarily too long, but that seemed as good a place to start with shortening the book as any. I tackled one of them and knocked out 3 pages and 1,000 words this afternoon. I plan to try the same with the other tomorrow. That would mean every chapter is between 8 and 15 pages, which seems really nifty.

That's tomorrow, and the end of the week, and then . . . I don't know. I'm getting close to printing it out again for a fresh read and/or to share with my next reader. Maybe it's time.

With all my revising, the total had crept up to 71,600 words. I'm at 70,600 words now. I doubt that I'll get it back down to my original goal of 65,000 words, but I plan to close the gap some.

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