Wednesday, September 15, 2010

bransford on chapters...

nathan bransford tweeted this:

"Every chapter is a microcosm of a novel: it should have a beginning, middle and end. Characters end in a different place. #writing "

what a great way to think of it, and so true.


  1. I'm not so sure. Mostly because I'm not so sure about ends. Well, or beginnings. Or even middles....

    One of the things that is often said about stories is that, really, they _never_ end. They may sleep, or you may end on the edge of a scream. Sometimes a work is written quite deliberately to allow the reader to develop their own ending. Because there is always, unless you end with the end of creation, a ' what happens next.'

    A tale may deal itself with a small segment of a pseudo-reality, but we know ourselves from our own existance that things do not generally get tied up in neat little bows. The good deed we did yesterday comes back to haunt us.

    I talk about ends, but the same is true of beginnings. Every beginning, unless you _start_ with the creation of, er, creation :-), is itself the continuance of other things that went before. If the tale begins with me in the shower ( a truly horrible thought. Don't do it. Just... well, don't :-) ), then I still had to open the ahower door and step in. I still had to be somewhere else to walk into the bathroom. We pretend we are beginning, but we aren't really.

    The middle? The middle is a middle only from the perspective of the story we are telling at the time. It itself may be the moments of existance where other tales intersect and ' begin' or ' end'.

    OK. I know we can't tell all that. It's too complex. We have a story, and we ' begin' it. The players play, the tale dances... and the music stops. For our own tale at least. But what if, for some, it sells, gets popular... and the publisher wants Volume two! We suddenly spin on the spot. No! It _didn't_ stop! you see, you only _thought_ Sebastian was dead! He was really... um... er... taking a very, very long shower! There he is! In the kitchen, with the candlestick! He's going to...

    Or is he? There's the tale :-).

  2. The key is really structural consistency. Some poorly written work contains paragraphs that are without middles and ends