Monday, September 8, 2014

Chapter Summaries...To Get Your Head in the Game!

The longer I write, the more aware I have become of the importance of character development
By winnond
as the plot moves along. It seems kind of like balancing a ball on the tip of my finger and, unless I keep my eye on it, the ball crashes to the floor and bounces away down tangents without purpose, without reason. I will tell you that, not just as a writer but as a reader, I can't stand it when a story subplot or character's journey has no impression on the over all theme of the book.

So, when I decide to take the ball, and place it firmly in one place for a nice long time-out (sorry, my alter ego is basketball/football/baseball mom), I have a hard time steadying it on my finger when I return to play (write) again.

When I've been away from a story for a break, once I return the characters seem like they were part of a dream that I can't quite remember. The setting where I left the characters seems to be masked by dusk, with no stadium lights to show details. My hands are calloused by the reality of life outside the story, and I struggle to grasp the ball again!
By satit_srihin

Is this analogy too much? Well, I'll stop now and be straight Sherrinda mentioned in the Weekend Edition, there is a thorough way to re-acquaint yourself to the in a fun little exercise (well, not always so fun depending on how "rough" your WIP is...)--Chapter Summaries.

I have 16 chapters written for my current WIP. Instead of just reading the last half of Chapter 16 to get back in the groove, (um...yeah...remember the dim setting and the hazy characters?) I decided to take the time to go through each chapter and sum it up in a short blurb. This reminds me what the characters are going through and what the plot is doing. I also cut and paste some good quotes from each chapter to remind myself what exactly is going on.

By imagerymajestic
**Now, those of you who are plotters might think this is strange timing as far as the process goes...BUT, for me, even if I do plot it out (right now, I have a rough outline of the story, chapter by chapter), as I write, it ALWAYS the chapters don't usually pan out like my original outline suggested. So revisiting this type of summary after having written the story to a degree, is really helpful!**

Not only do I also work out some kinks in the story as I read through each chapter, I also have the chance to polish those first chapters that I am taking to conference. And furthermore, feeling connected to my story in a deeper way might be good prep for discussing my story at editor appointments!

So, if you feel like a stranger to your story, put the ball in time-out and study your play book. Chapter by chapter, you'll find yourself prepared to put your head back in the game!

How do you re-acquaint yourself with your story after a break? How much do you plot out before you start writing. Do you use chapter summaries in any way?

Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written five Historical Romance novels, has an Historical underway, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one sheets, selling Jamberry Nail Wraps, and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check out her author page at


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

This is a great idea, Angie. I am so forgetful and this would definitely be the way to go after a writing break.

Anonymous said...

Hi Angie, To answer your question, how do I - I've a story I started 10-ish years ago, set it aside (life happened) and am now revisiting. I had several pages typed and printed already, and could have plugged those in and pieced them together (each chapter was a separate word doc, no clue why I did that!) Instead, I chose to retype it all, to get my head back into the story. It's rather disjointed, and i will have to step back and write out at least a general map of where and how this story needs to progress. But I knew that to try to pick up the thread and carry on, I would be lost and quite unsuccessful. It's tedious, the retyping, but far more effective in getting back into the character's head.
~ Robin E. Mason
(don't know why but it says below that there is an error with my wordpress ID.

Angie Dicken said...

Thanks, Sherrinda! It can be tedious, but it's kind of fun to look back after writing a bit. :)

Angie Dicken said...

Ooh, good idea, Robin! Rewriting is a great way to re-live the story!! :) Thanks for stopping by.