1. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

    Jun 6, 2013
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    How do you decide on the first few lines of a very important chapter?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by cherrya, Sep 10, 2017.

    I love movies so sometimes I try to figure out how I would direct it if I were a movie director (the lighting, the cinematography), or sometimes I use music and it sets the mood instantly. But right now I'm writing a really important chapter and nothing I know seems to work.

    I think it's because it's a chapter that's meant to introduce a character that grew up with only good things happening to him. It's meant to show how different he is to another character who had a terrible childhood, without mentioning the said character (since they haven't met yet).

    I think it's hard to not take the path of the tortured main character, it's harder to write, I feel. But it's very important to the story. If I could just figure out how to start it...
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
    Lifeline likes this.
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jan 8, 2017
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    Rhode Island
    I'd just take a whack at it for now and deal with the gravitas later in the edits. You may find that the chapter isn't all that important after all... so many of those first draft moments end up being unnecessary setups for things that never needed to be explained/embellished/underlined in the first place.
    cherrya likes this.
  3. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

    Jun 3, 2015
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    SC, USA
    Thinking about movies ... if you visualize this chapter, what comes to mind first? What would the opening shot be? What's most emblematic of this character's idealistic childhood? Maybe it would help to think about the most striking ways the opposing character's childhood was different, and mention the inverse of those.

    When it comes to opening lines, I often write for a bit before coming across what I really wanted to start with. I recently heard this referred to as 'clearing your throat' before you get to the real writing. Don't be afraid to put in some nonsense on the way to figuring it out.
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  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    I don't see any need to decide what the final beginning will be. Just write stuff. You can find the beginning within that stuff, later.
  5. Sclavus

    Sclavus Active Member

    Aug 26, 2017
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    I decide where the chapter breaks are during editing. I don't bother with it when I'm writing the story. Tell the story first, then decide where the chapters will be. That will take the pressure off trying to find the perfect opening for a chapter.

    It seems like you're struggling to portray a character without using their opposite as a frame of reference. In that case, I might suggest you look at the movie Twins with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. We see one as living a serene life, and the other, not so much. Because we see one after the other, the "bad twin's" life seems that much worse, but we see "the good twin's" life first, without any contrast.

    Here's a link to the script. I hope that will help. Even though it's only an outline for the scenes, it shows the good life of one twin, followed by the depravity of the other.
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  6. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor Contest Winner 2022

    Apr 18, 2017
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    Currently Reading::
    "Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner, "Dead Souls" by Nikolai Gogol
    If you want emphasis, then shift from whatever you were doing last. Let's say the last chapter ended with action, you should shift to distant narration. Or if it ended on setting, you could start with dialog. That switch will highlight what you're doing.

    Then make your choice important. Don't say it with too many words or it will feel flabby. You want it all condensed, striking like an uppercut. Use effects that are unusual too, like fragments or aphorisms or surprising metaphors. Whatever you come up with, whittle it down to almost nothing, and then say that. From there, you just match the tone.
  7. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

    Apr 11, 2008
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    This may not be the answer to your question, but this is what I thought of:

    I don't usually think of a chapter as important or not. I mean, if it isn't important, I don't write it. Case in point: two or three months pass between scene 5 and scene 6 of my work in progress because, at the time, I couldn't think of anything that needed to happen in between. Maybe when I get to the rewriting stage I'll know what should go there, but in the meantime I chose to just leave it out rather than write any "unimportant" chapters.
    Jipset and 123456789 like this.
  8. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

    Jan 28, 2012
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    This response is sort of a big deal. Very important. I also think these time jumps probably happen in novels more than we realize it. If you have nothing to say, don't waste your time coming up with nonsense, just so you can bore the reader later. It's also possible that something will grow between those two scenes on its own, given enough time.
    Cave Troll likes this.
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Jul 7, 2016
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    I don't understand why this chapter or the beginning of this chapter would be harder to write than anything else. Start it with story. Start it with something interesting. Is there really a problem or is this procrastination?

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