So, where was I? Right! Chapter 9.
Chapter 9 was giving me some trouble. We’re already about 8 pages into the story. We’ve met two of our main characters and established a premise and shown a bit of the world. Time to get into the guts of the story and have some fun. But I still have to take care of some business, namely, getting us to a stable plot point form where to progress. Remember, our hero,Major To has traveled through time and is in a world that looks similar tot he one he left but just enough is different to throw him off. he’s got to get his legs about him before we can just throw him into the wilderness again. This is the point of chapter 9 and at first, chapter 10 as well. That was my problem. I had given myself way too much space to do what is essentially the novel-equivalent of an establishing shot. Where is Tom living and how is he coping? That doesn’t need 5000 words. In my attempt to fill up the alloted space, i was spinign out a web of cliches. Tom gets a cell phone! Tom meets his wacky gay neighbors! Tom has an epiphane about the tragic nature of the future… Well, so what? That’s not the point. Noone wants to see Major Tom sit in his livign room, trying to figure out how to order a pizza with his brand new iPhone.
So, I took the parts of chapter 9 that worked and the parts of chapter 10 that worked and smooshed them together (well, edited them together).
This seems like a trivial thing but it’s not. I have the whole rest of the book to show how Tom is or is not adapting to this crazy wacky futuristic world in which he finds himself. no need to dump it all out on the table at once. Our goal is, whenever possible, to do at least two things at once. We can both move the plot forward and establish that Tom finds this world confusing and strange. Idelaly, we would do more than just those two things but for th epurpose of our illustattion, the take-home lesson is this: Don’t waste your reader’s time. If you, the writer are bored by the idea of doing that scene, skip it. If it doesn’t interest you, it sure as hell isn’t going to interrest your reader, who will never know it’s missing. And if it turns out later you need to add that scene back in, well, that’s what the second draft is for.
This cleared the way to jump into the complication, or Act 2, where things start to get really interesting.