Does this make me weird?!

Yesterday, right on target, I finished the book I’ve been working on this autumn  – I always like to finish whatever I’m working on before Christmas so that I can start something new every New Year. But that doesn’t make me weird because everyone does it, right?

The story is called ‘The Binding’ and it’s set on a remote island. I’ve loved writing it because it’s been reminding me of all the lovely islands I’ve been to. Everyone loves islands – nothing weird about that!

Yell, one of the Shetland islands, land of the 'simmer dim'

Yell, one of the Shetland islands, land of the ‘simmer dim’

So here’s what’s got me wondering…

When I’m writing, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, I start with a sketchy plan and head off from Start in the general direction of Finish, wondering whether I can really be bothered, until suddenly I begin to see the shape of the whole thing in my head like a geometrical figure or a pattern of numbers.

At that point, and not before, I’m hooked. I dash along like a mad thing, joining the dots to make the beautiful shape of the book I’m creating.

This means all my books have a sort of symmetry in the contents – the four Peony Pinkers, for example, all have 17 chapters. Why 17? I’ve no idea, only that that was the number they needed, and I knew each story was on the right track the moment I could see how it could make 17 chapters.

The Peony Pinkers - four perfect seventeens!

The Peony Pinkers – four perfect seventeens!

Earlier in the year, I wrote an adult book which came out as four parts, each part having three chapters.

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The shapely contents of my adults’ book, ‘Writing in the House of Dreams’

The Binding has three parts and each one seven chapters.

The lovely symmetry of 'The Binding'

The lovely symmetry of ‘The Binding’

Is it the same for other writers, or does this make me weird?!

13 thoughts on “Does this make me weird?!

  1. Ermmm….. I doubt I’ll finish my latest before Christmas. But that doesn’t make you seem weird. That just makes me seem a bit rubbish. I was hoping for a sudden burst of writerly energy in the New Year. Who knows? Maybe it’ll strike early?! Good luck x

  2. I’m not able to divide books into chapters,even if it’s only a small book for school. I just can’t decide where stop writing a chapter,then move on to another one. Do you name the chapters at the end,or do you name them while writing it?

    • Hi Aoife! Once I’ve seen how many there have to be I kind of divide up the action/content and call the chapters a work-in-progress name that just describes what happens, so that I don’t forget – ‘Finding the bothy’, ‘The feast of the ancestors’ etc. Then as I write each chapter, I give it a better name. I do love chapter headings!

  3. Jenny, I thought I was weird and now I’m reassured. I LOVE the patterns that appear when writing. All the ‘points of conflict’, plot twists, ‘points of no return’ and climaxes in my books seem perfectly to fit a movie script’ 3 Act structure’. (I can draw you a lovely diagram featuring three mountain peaks!) It happens automatically and is probably because I’m a film fanatic and have absorbed the pattern over many decades of viewing. I also end up with 24 chapters (or there abouts) which makes a lovely pattern.

  4. Woohoo – I’m not weird! Thank-you, Cathy 🙂 Loving the patterns that appear when writing is the big magic for me – now you don’t see it, now you do!!

    • Thank-you for commenting – it’s lovely to hear that other people have the same experience in writing 🙂

    • It’s less organisational skills than trust, Kayla – Dorothea Brande (‘On Becoming a Writer’ – wonderful book) says the unconscious is the home of form – the stories emerge in the patterns of your psyche – and you have to write a lot before you begin to realise and feel it. Give it a few more novels!

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