I hate chapter seven with a passion you wouldn’t believe.
In a 50-55k book, chapter seven falls around or just after the mid-point of the book for me. But don’t confuse my hatred of chapter seven as having something to do with the dreaded sagging middle. In order for the middle to sag, you must assume there’s an end somewhere. As a true-blue Pantser, I guarantee you that when I’m in chapter seven, there’s no way in hell “The End” exists.
So why the hatred of chapter seven?
It’s in chapter seven that I realize my hero’s motivation isn’t strong enough to continue to carry him through the plot. It’s where I realize what little plot I have sucks big time – and is probably overly contrived to boot. By chapter seven, I’ve decided my heroine is too stupid to live or totally unlikable, and that she and my hero have all the sexual chemistry of an oatmeal cookie. Chapter seven is where my career ends.
Now, back in the days when “editor,” “deadline,” “contract,” and “money” were simply vague concepts, dealing with chapter seven was pretty easy: I just turned off the computer and walked away.
I’d dither about, organize my sock drawer, have long conversations with the Playfriends and my CP about ways to fix the problems. I’d write newsletter articles, blog entries, and letters to the PTA. This was the opportunity to play with the first three chapters, enter them in contests, and stress over the results. I could easily kill anywhere from two weeks to two months before I’d figure out what I needed to do and get back into the book.
But those days are over. Chapter seven is still the bane of my existence, a harbinger of my downfall, proof that I suck. But I no longer have the luxury of time to wallow in the horror. Decisions have to be made quickly. The sock drawer goes unorganized as I stare at the computer screen, willing myself to figure out what happens next.
Feel pity for DG and AC who must live with me during chapter seven. In the old days, the freak-out was spread over a long period of time, and while they may have tired of listening to me whine and moan about the general I suckittude, but that’s nothing compare to the all-out disastrous nervous breakdown they had to witness during my most recent chapter seven. With no time to dither about, options had to be discovered, argued and discarded at warp speed. I paced, I talked to myself, I sent emails and called people to solicit opinions. It got ugly. You probably heard the sigh of relief when I reported to one and all that I’d typed the beautiful words “Chapter Eight.”
Am I the only one who goes through this? If not with chapter seven, when? Even if you’re not a writer, I’m sure you can relate. (And if not, lie to me :-) )