I am closing in on my final half dozen chapters of my novel Viral Times. The work that follows this “draft that must be done,” as Bruce Holland Rogers calls the first draft: revision. Big revision, at first, to eliminate what’s not working.

Determine what’s not needed by putting a scene or a chapter against this rule, suggested in Philip Gerard’s Writing a Book that Makes a Difference:

Dramatically, the “rule” of chapters is the rule of scenes in any fiction: Each chapter should have a reason for its inclusion. The chapter [or scene] should not just

  • provide more information
  • expand the resume of character
  • enhance the descriptions of place

[A chapter] may do all of these things, but first it must have an indispensable role in moving the story along.

Gerard compares writing a novel to building a cathedral. What’s problem is solved by building a cathedral? No, it’s not giving glory to God. The cathedral creates a large indoor lighted space.

A cathedral creates an architecture of light, Gerard says. So too does a novel.

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