Writing a novel, no matter how long, is like swimming up and down an empty pool. You can decide how many lengths you want to swim on any given day, your short term goal of the opposite end of the pool is always in sight, and no one will get in your way. Once you have swum all the lengths necessary to produce a completed story that is fit for sale, you must venture into open water, where you will find none of the comforts of your private pool.
A long time ago, I heard that the creation of a story is a journey for the writer, often more so than it is for the reader who only experiences the finished text. This was true in my case. As mentioned in my last post, I started my story with the premise that a man was dying, and to that I attached the belief that a person should be allowed to die on their own terms. This correlated with my view of myself and how I hope to both live my life and face my death. As such, my first attempt at a plot was built on the premise that assisted dying is a worthy option and my protagonist should struggle to assert his right to die at a time and in a manner of his own choosing. So far, so self-assured, I thought, but thoughts can be a slippery things and can lead you down winding roads to unexpected destinations.
The scarcity with which the topic of assisted dying is mentioned in written fiction can be interpreted in different ways. Authors look to make a living from their writing, and so wish to produce what are deemed to be the choicest tales. It can also be said that authors write what they like to read, so their lack of satisfaction with the last few books they have read in a particular genre may inspire them to write their own story, which will be free of all the irritating aspects of other people’s work.
Every author who seeks to independently publish their own work must face a transition from one end of the writing spectrum to the other, from many thousands of words, all arranged into punctuated sentences, to the 140 character limit of a tweet. After composing a symphony of words in isolation, you must find a few short notes that will be heard within a cacophony of constant noise.
Chapter headings seem to appear less nowadays than in the books I read at school, but I would rather not make a definitive claim about that because I also remember summers being longer back then. I have always liked each chapter in a story to have a title that gives an identity to the forthcoming portion of the overall text and invites me to read on and discover the reason behind the headline.