Thursday, July 3, 2008

I can't believe I'm even considering this...

...but I think I'm on the verge of reconceptualizing part of my chapter layout. I've already done this once, about a month ago, combining former chapters 1 and 2 into a single, longer chapter. Now, I'm about 80% convinced that I need to take the new chapter 2 (formerly chapter three) apart, pull the good 8,000 or so words from the two major sections, divide them in half according to topic, and incorporate them into chapters 3 and 5.

Here's why this makes sense: Chapter 2 was always a weak chapter, a grab-bag of stuff that didn't really fit anywhere else. It's also thin on documentation. And since chapter 1 is really a background chapter, chapter 2, with all its flaws, would be the first time that readers would encounter my work with the actual documents. And it's not good that this is the first impression they get.

Here's why I'm hesitant: this will leave me with a four-chapter book (not counting intro and conclusion), with those four chapters only totaling about 75,000 words. Add another 10,000 for the intro & conclusion, and another 4,000 or so for the bibliography, and that feels like barely a book at all. Plus, this seems like awfully late in the game to do a major rearrangement. It's like my version of a Hail Mary pass.

Yet, I'm about 80% sure I'm going to do it anyway.

7 comments:

Dr. Virago said...

If it makes you feel better, 75,000 + 10,000 + 4,000 = 89,000, which is just 1,000 words under the maximum limit for books in Palgrave Macmillan's New Middle Ages series. So I'd say that's more than "hardly a book."

squadratomagico said...

I think it's really important that your first evidentiary chapter be strong and tight -- so I think this sounds like a great revision.

clio's disciple said...

Yes, I was about to say...I'm no expert, but I hear a short book is not necessarily a bad thing. Plus, grab-bag chapters are always the worst, so this does sound like a good idea.

Michael said...

It sounds like chapter 2 has been the place you kind of dump ideas until they can be appropriately assigned: literary purgatory. Is there enough of something related but ignored by your book so far to throw in there permanently? A recipe for brownies or the lyrics to a Moody Blues song?

Susan said...

I don't think 90,000 words is bad for a book. Believe me, readers always appreciate a book that is focused, short and well-argued. Much more likely to read it, anyway!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Thanks for the support, everyone (and for the dose of weirdness from Michael). I've done it. Now, today's project is to smooth it out.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

(And btw, it's going to be more like 88,000, I think. My friend the Piper Ph.D. suggested hacking 3,000 words from ch. 1, and I think she's right.)