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I spend a lot of time here talking about aspects of the writing/publishing process that I feel is relevant (and interesting) to other writer’s. Sometimes I ask myself -- “Self, why is this relevant and/or interesting?” I mean, who am I to decide that? What I’ve concluded is that although I haven’t been published yet, I’m what you would call representative. I am the Average Joe of the writing community. If writers were grouped into a consumer category, marketing firms would be tripping over themselves to have me participate in their focus groups. What I like, usually everyone else (writers) likes. What I struggle with, a lot of other writers struggle with.

Take today’s topic for example. In every book I’ve tackled there’s always been at least one particular scene/chapter that causes my anxiety level to rise when I think about writing it. Trepidation is what it’s called. It could be a scene/chapter that involves intense emotions…or high tension…fast paced action…or deep retrospection, but whatever the challenge is – it concerns us because we’ve never gone there before. Have you experienced this? My money is on the answer being yes…and I’d be willing to postulate that if the answer is no, then you haven’t written your best work yet.

I just finished one of these pivotal chapters this past weekend. How’d I do? Let’s just say there was a smile on my face at the end of that session. I feel it’s these kind of chapters that really define our work and the type of writer we want to be. Wherever you set the bar, clearing it with space to spare is what fills us with pride. And the next time, the bar will go up a little farther and the butterflies in your stomach will turn into twin-winged WWII fighter planes. That’s why you always hear the advice – no matter what, keep writing. While you’re surprising yourself with each pivotal chapter you churn out, the quality of everything you produce rises right along with it.

What about you? Care to tell me about your last pivotal chapter?


  1. Hi Don - I'm sure every author has those challenges ... I know there are blog posts I've written - where I've thought this isn't good enough - but sometimes we just have to push the button ... and thankfully with blogging that post will disappear into the mists of time. Good luck to all authors - cheers Hilary

  2. I think every book has one of those. I wasn't too anxious about the pivotal chapter in my last book, but it's sure caused anxiety among my readers. In a good way, of course.

  3. I'm just rewriting one of those pivotal chapters right now. It's a change that needs to be made, but it's a tough one because what happened in that chapter was the reason I wrote the book in the first place. Now I'm losing that thing that sparked my story. But sometimes you need to change things if you want to get published.

  4. Hmm, I'm trying to think of a good one. You mean, something outside of what we know personally, and/or outside our comfort zone? I write emotional stuff all the time, but nothing too dark or scary. It's not my style. I like fun :) I guess I was a bit disturbed when Zyan beheaded the Nightmare in that one scene, because I love horses so much. I probably have a better example, but that's all I've got at the moment :)

  5. The pivotal chapter I always struggle with is called "Chapter 1." I can bang out the others. 50,000 words? 90,000 words? I'm fine. Chapter One? Insert image of J running into the woods and hiding in a tree. Ha ha ha. I have, at present, 15 versions of the opening scenes of my current book. The beta feedback I get seems to be that each reader wants information upfront that I didn't include until later on. They all agree I'm starting the book at the correct point in time though, so I guess that's something. I just never thought that people needed, or wanted, an abundance of foreshadowing and backstory in the first ten pages. It's contrary to everything I know! So I keep trying to weave it in with the action. And each time I like the opening a little less.
    Should just donate to Locks of Love now, because I'm gonna go bald from pulling my hair out with this beast.

    Just keep writing. (<-- sung in the Dori voice in my head)
    (^Yes, Ellen's voice is in my head.)

  6. It's been so long that I've written a chapter that I can't remember anything pivotal. Does a pivotal blog post count? No matter--I can't think of one of those either.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out




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