The Making of a Chapter: “Tempus Fugit”

I wrote a chapter late last week (the third one), “Tempus Fugit”.  I really wanted to write chronologically and watch the story unfold as I write, but “Tempus Fugit” demanded that I write first.  The first 13 chapters are all basically plotted and titled and are basically ready to go, but it’s all about inspiration.  Well, not all about.  Well… well.  With starting “Love! in Bedlam”, it’s all about inspiration.  Anywho, starting at a place other than the beginning turned out to be its own sort of interesting.  The chapter is the result of what happened in the previous one, so chapter two benefits in that it has a rather large target for it to land on.  But “Tempus Fugit” didn’t start off as a chapter.  In fact, you could say that “Tempus Fugit” started “Love! in Bedlam”.

A few months ago… I think around the time of my birthday, I felt a strong urge to unload a lot of emotional baggage pertaining to love.  I also wanted to make another short film.  The two desires merged and became “Tempus Fugit”.  With the short, I wanted to make a David Lynchian time-travel story about getting over someone.  I’d still like to do that someday.  Alas.  As I was plotting the short, I thought about how difficult it’d be for me to direct it and started getting disheartened.  Then I thought about a novel idea I had that took place in an asylum.  There wasn’t much to it besides “Oi!  I wanna make an asylum novel!”  Writing a novel is beyond cheap and I’d only need me.  So I decided to write what’s ending up as “Love! in Bedlam”.

However, I didn’t wanna throw “Tempus Fugit” away, so I figured out a way to put it into the novel.  Now.  Here’s where things get interesting.  The short film idea was very much “Why me?”  But as I was about to write the chapter, I decided to make it “Shame on you!”  A lot of stories about wronged lovers make said lovers the victim.  I thought it’d be interesting to take the lover in “Tempus Fugit” and make him the villain.  Or “villain”.  The basic reason for the character’s pain has stayed, but why it happened changed.  The writing became very interesting after that, especially knowing what happens afterward.  “Love! in Bedlam” became very interesting, as well, because writing that chapter was the first blatant rally cry to myself that this won’t be a typical story.  I mean, I always knew it, but now I can read it.  I love not having to worry about likable characters, and instead worrying about interesting characters.

Writing “Love! in Bedlam”, I told myself that I wanted to write a lengthy novel yet not make it bloated.  I think a lot of storytellers who wanna create something long forget to remind themselves to leave all the fat out.  Why do I want the novel to be long?  Because I like long stories and like the challenge of writing one, and I think the characters and situations can sustain the length.  I also told myself that I’m not gonna bother with an editor.  I’m not gonna pay someone to be not nearly as hard on myself about my writing as I’ll be.  You wouldn’t believe the scrutiny.  The editor would also try to fit the story in a box, then run away in terror at either the story or me with my brick and chain.  This is a roundabout way of talking about how I’m handling “Tempus Fugit”.  Although I wrote it, it’s not done.  I forgot some things I need to get in there, I need to tidy up everything, and I need to make it fit with whatever I end up doing in its preceding chapter.

But it’s fun so I don’t mind.

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2 Responses to “The Making of a Chapter: “Tempus Fugit””

  1. I cannot even imagine the work you real writers put into a novel, I write my 300-400 words post and sometimes struggle with them. Whenever I wanna write something longer I get all tangled up and forget to tie things, it usually ends up looking a bunch of loose paragraph about random thoughts.

    • Well, one of the things I keep coming back to when I talk about writing is that there’s no right way. Even when it comes to how long it takes to finish a novel. It took Tolkien almost 20 years to write “Lord of the Rings”, and half of that time was because he got distracted with life. On the flipside, it took Jack Kerouac three weeks of non-stop, coffee-fueled typing on a roll of paper he taped together and fed into his typewriter to write “On the Road”.

      As for what happens to you when you try to write long things, either change it or embrace it. If you wanna change it, find someone who can tell you where you need to fix things. If you wanna embrace it, tell stories where bad continuity is a good thing. Like something with an unreliable narrator. With whatever you decide, don’t worry about it taking longer than you think it should.

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