Sorting the Scenes into Chapters

Part of the third edit of Mirror Image involves sorting scenes into chapters. When I wrote the first draft I didn’t bother worrying about chapters, which is unusual for me as I usually have a clear idea where each chapter starts and finishes. However, with Mirror Image I have no idea and I’m finding that something which should be easily decided is quite the opposite.

Mirror Image is one story told from a number of view points. By this, I mean the individual scenes, when put together in the correct order, often contribute to one overall scene which starts with one character, moves through several other characters and nearly always finishes with someone else. It’s like you and two friends telling the world what you all perceive from the situation you are all in, at the same time. Just because you are in the same room, doesn’t mean you are seeing what’s happening around you in the same way and you certainly wouldn’t be feeling the same emotions (generally speaking).

Anyway, I’ve been fumbling through the edit, trying to break the individual scenes into chapters and I’ve been feeling totally unhappy with my progress. Then, this morning, I realised I was doing it all wrong. Instead of “chapters”, I should be thinking in “days”. As soon as I thought of this, the job became a lot easier because the days in Mirror Image are kind of like a count down to an important event (and I use the term loosely). It’s important to show the reader where the characters are at on the timeline and what better way to do that than by grouping all the scenes from one day together. Hopefully, it will leave the reader feeling as exhausted as the characters. More importantly, it will impress on the reader how quickly life changes.

Mirror Image is proving to be very different to anything else I’ve written. I see that as a good thing and I’m definitely learning to think “outside the box” as I progress through the writing and editing of this manuscript.

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4 thoughts on “Sorting the Scenes into Chapters

  1. As I’ve read more I’ve found that books are divided into chapters differently.

    The book I just finished reading, Hater by David Moody divides his book into both days and chapters with several chapters within each day.

  2. Actually, that’s a really good idea. Some of the chapters were going to be quite long, but this could be the answer. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    Question: How did David Moody handle the chapters for each day. Did he do the following?

    22 May 2009
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2

    23 May 2009
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2

    Or, did the chapter numbers run on like this?

    22 May 2009
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2

    23 May 2009
    Chapter 3
    Chapter 4

    I suppose it doesn’t really matter, but I like to know how other people handle situations like these. 🙂

  3. He handled it the second way. It totalled like 40 chapters of whatever. Some of the chapters were quite short, which I liked.

    Sometimes when writing novels myself, I write a chapter, and it’s like not even two pages and can’t help but think this is too short to be a chapter but Moody doesn’t seem to be phased by that.

  4. Thanks for the information, Benjamin. I’ve been doing it a bit different, as it seems to work a bit better for this story.

    I’ve got:

    Tuesday, 26th May
    II
    III
    IV

    Wednesday, 27th May
    II
    III
    IV
    V

    Thursday, 28th May etc etc

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