So, I think I promised a breakdown of Chapter 3…if not, here it is anyway.
Chapter 3 nearly gave me a breakdown. When I decided to do this, I never realized how much work it was going to be. Writing a book is something that’s usually spread out over time. Months on first drafts, months on revisions. Lots of car rides and walks to figure things out. My best friend was (and probably still is) scared that I’d pull a “Shaun,” meaning that I’d bite off more than I could chew and then, when it became too much for me, I’d slowly walk away and pretend I’d never mentioned it. But that’s sort of the thing about this project. People are watching. Writers, friends, strangers. I can’t really pull a Shaun. So I had to get my head on straight and whip up a Chapter 3
I’ve noticed that the TODAY chapters are tending to be much longer than the YESTERDAY chapters. I think it’s going to continue to be a trend. The YESTERDAY chapters are sort of the negative spaces of the TODAY chapters. They fill in some blanks. Give readers info they didn’t have previously. I think that you could read the story without any of the YESTERDAY chapters, but it wouldn’t be as good. Like the flashbacks in LOST. They weren’t necessary, but they added a really awesome dimension to the story.
I mentioned before that I sped forward to avoid the boring bits. This chapter takes place over the course of one day because I wanted to ground readers after the jump. I wanted to show where Charlie is right this moment. As the story progresses, chapters will span more than a single day, but starting in the morning and going through to the end of the day seemed appropriate.
I began this at the diner to show a few things: 1. That Charlie is out of his cast. For me, that was a way to show how much time had passed without actually saying it. 2. That things in Blackpool are weird. Mr. Henderson mentions the dead dogs and such. I’d originally intended for that last scene with the cats to occur immediately after this scene, but decided to really draw it out to build tension. 3. To show that Deputy Northrop hasn’t gotten anywhere with her investigation but that she’s curious about Charlie. I also wanted to introduce Owen. I’m honestly not sure what part he’s going to play in this story yet, but he seemed like he might be a great character to parallel Theo’s own journey, so I seeded him into the story just in case.
SIDE NOTE: I do this a lot. Seed things into stories for later. When I’m writing normally, I just seed everything that pops into my head and then cut out what I end up not using. It’s a technique I actually got from TV. I can’t be as blatant about it in this story since I may never use some of this stuff, but I’d rather have a character show up that I never use than need a character toward the end that I’ve never introduced.
This little scene was supposed to be the one where Charlie sings to Theo. But I decided that it was too near the start of the chapter. As the story progresses, playing music and summoning Theo becomes addictive and I wanted to show that here. I also wanted a quiet scene that showed how much Charlie misses Theo.
This little scene with Coach is something of a setup for Rob’s character. I don’t want to spoil that storyline, but part iii mostly serves to do that. But I also wanted to show Coach Rubidoux’s personality and relationship with Charlie. I’d originally intended to have Jed throw a football at Charlie like he did to Theo, but felt that would be too neatly done. There’s a lot of story here and I’m trying to balance the pace.
Again with Owen. This scene actually makes more sense in context of the upcoming Chapter 4. But I wanted to show a few things with this: 1. Charlie is now so unpopular that he has a locker in the middle of nowhere. 2. Charlie has been involved with the prank that’s played on Owen. Not with Owen’s books, but with other students in the past. 3. That the Charlie we’ll get to see in the YESTERDAY chapters is not the same guy we’re seeing here.
Using a nursing home becomes important later on. I knew he needed community service and a nursing home seemed a good place in light of my future plans. I’d initially intended to introduce Audrey in her own chapter at her house, but decided this meeting felt more organic. This chapter also introduces Mary…and while she herself isn’t too important, her attitude toward Charlie is because it’s how a lot of people feel about him. We haven’t dealt much with the aftermath of his accident, but people weren’t thrilled with Charlie Hudson for getting drunk and smashing his mother’s car into a tree.
This is Audrey’s real introduction. She, along with Charlie, are going to become the frame that holds up the TODAY chapters. Showing her in this context gives you a solid idea of who this girl is. Also, her grandfather becomes important later on.
This section was a last minute entry. This is what I mean when I say that sometimes just writing leads you down roads you never thought. I had intended that Charlie would walk home, find a quiet place to play guitar, and that would be that. But then he ran into Rob Langdon. We know certain things right now. We know that Theo died in his tux. We know that Charlie got into an accident in HIS tux. So we can infer that both events happened at the same time and might be connected. We also know that Jed and Rob and Will bullied Theo, so it’s not a stretch to think they might have maybe been involved. And if that’s true (and I’m not saying it is), then Rob’s downward spiral might be a response to that. But what really got me about this section was Rob’s apology and his ominous “You’ll see.”
Okay, so I know it might be cheesy, but since I’m doing a very, very loose reinterpretation of Orpheus and Eurydice, I thought setting this scene behind an abandoned Greek tavern was appropriate if not particularly subtle. This was an important scene for me because I’ve spent the whole chapter building toward it. Charlie is going to call Theo.
I almost didn’t include this, but describing someone singing is bound to come off badly. So when Charlie closes his eyes and sings, this is what he sees. Is it the underworld? A premonition of the future? Maybe a little bit of both.
Theo will never talk in TODAY. Because he’s dead. So it’s tough to think about how Charlie would be around him. I decided to have Charlie try to act like this whole thing is somehow normal. And I opted not to draw the scene out. It’s a sad, depressing scene that I hope really drives home the point that Charlie misses Theo and will do anything to be with him again.
And then there are the dead cats. It goes back to that first scene and now we learn that Charlie is responsible. Not only is he responsible, but he KNOWS he’s responsible. Which makes it both sad and disturbing. Seeing Theo is worth the lives of all those animals to him. So I hopefully left readers wondering what else is more important. What else will Charlie sacrifice?
Finally that picture. I teased the mystery of Theo’s death in Chapter 1, so there has to be a mystery. We don’t know how he died or who, if anyone, had a hand in his death. Deputy Northrop is after Charlie, but now so is someone else. Someone he doesn’t know. For me, that was a way to add another layer onto this story.
And that’s Chapter 3. If anyone has any questions, I’d love talking about it. Writing isn’t a science. Sometimes I do things that I think are logical that don’t make sense to other people, and sometimes, as a writer, I forget that readers don’t have access to what’s in my brain.