Just Skip It

I seem to be making something of a habit of skipping over difficult chapters and continuing on with the intention of coming back to them. I did that last year during NaNoWriMo because I had to write about a hurricane hitting an inland town that had probably never seen a hurricane. I wasn’t about to take time out for research during NaNo, so I finished the month with almost 70,000 words, but with a crucial chapter missing. I finally got around to doing the research a couple of months ago, and the chapter is partly written.

This year, I ran into another roadblock. That chapter arrived after NaNo and my delayed win, and involves an act of violence that determines most of what happens in the following chapters. I don’t know why I’ve been so reluctant to write it, and even without it, I managed to write the next two chapters. At the moment, I’m about 100 words away from having to do the deed, having crept up to it, line by line over the past few days.

I’ve learned that if I know exactly what’s going to happen in that missing chapter, it’s okay to procrastinate. But when it’s a chapter that can go any one of several different ways, the cost of delay can mean having to do a major rewrite of later chapters. Has that happened to me? Yes, and I can tell you it’s not fun. Will I do it again? Probably.

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6 thoughts on “Just Skip It

  1. I usuallly tell the part I want to come back to so I can write rest of story. That way my brain is processing in order. Then during rewrites I go back and write out the scenes–show them, if you will– and elaborate.

  2. That’s a good idea. I just try to keep it in mind, but that big empty hole can be discouraging. Better to write what I can and make notes for the rest, and maybe some snippets of dialog. Thanks.

  3. I have done this with a novel of mine. I skipped difficult parts promising that I will come back to them and it was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I won’t do it again, because it doesn’t work for me.

  4. One problem with skipping a part is that if you fill it in later and write something that affects later events in the book, you may have to do some rewriting in those later chapters. Luckily, I got away with it this time.

    1. That’s true. But this also happens in the second draft, third draft, edits, when you change stuff. Or it certainly happens to me. I am never satisfied with the way my novels are and always revise and change things, not big things, but still…

  5. After a year of writing and revising several pieces, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever be satisfied with any of them. There’s always something that can be improved, no matter how many times you think “This is it. I can quit now.”

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