The Book Without Chapters

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Why chapters? You don't need chapters. A river doesn't have chambers. Life is not compartmented, it flows. It doesn't stop to think or ask itself: "Where am I going now?" or "What am I going to do next?" It just carries on. The Earth doesn't stop from its journey around the sun because it suffers from Earth's block. God himself doesn't have Creator's block. Or, if he does, he chooses not to tell us. He creates, then lets his creations look after themselves.

My ambition is to write a novel that flows naturally. A novel that writes itself without me having to stop and think, "How am I going to put this into words?" or "What am I going to write next?" I just want to enjoy watching it enfold and organically grow in front of my eyes. I want to write a story that never runs out of ideas because it feeds on the very principle that keeps the universe going.

I want to cut out all the unnecessary stuff. To work towards evolution. To let the river find its course towards the sea. Anything that doesn't make it flow, anything that makes me stop flies out of the window. When I get stuck, I know I'm writing something I don't really want to write. My heart is not into it. So I write something else. This is the golden rule. Don't write anything you don't want to write just because you think you 'ought to', write what is in your heart and your heart will take you where you ought to be.

If you have difficulties describing a house, don't describe it. Nobody wants to hear what a house looks like anyway. That's not the reason why people will read or not read your novel. If you have difficulties writing a dialogue, don't write it. Lead the readers to a point where they can write it themselves. Maybe that's what they secretly want in the first place.

Your mind is flexible. It can go anywhere. It can travel at light speed and take you to places you've never even dreamed of before. Lead it wisely. Or even better, let it lead you. When you pour water over dry ground, it makes its way carefully through the cracks in an attempt to fill them all before it finally infiltrates the earth. If you dig a big trench, you leave it no choice but to follow your path, even if that means ignoring all the little cracks that need its healing touch.

We invent rules and regulations, we organize and categorize, we fill our lives with "must" and "musn't", just to realize we have created our own prisons, from which we cannot escape. The key phrase is: let go and be free. Don't let anything tie your wings. Anything that makes you stop and think is an indication that you have deviated from your path. Any struggle is a sign that you might have taken the wrong direction. Make a 180 degrees turn and you will notice a dramatic improvement.


Story said...

Thank you for this! I am constantly trying to get my writing to fit into a category (the category of "book" or "blog") and have difficulty doing just that. I appreciate your idea... which I read to be, let a work of art be itself - however it came to be and however it turns out.

Anonymous said...

giusto, omero non scrive in capitoli,
sono tutte invenzioni editoriali

Anonymous said...

I am thinking of writing a book without chapters. I feel what I will be writing about should just flow from one event or story into the other. Some people I have mentioned this to gave me odd looks. I want this book to just flow and not jump from subject to subject and be divided by a chapter.

C. M. Albrecht said...

Only today this came up to haunt me. My first novel, The Little Mornings, had no chapters. I felt it read better that way. The publisher however insisted I insert chapters. I did that, but when I got my rights back and found another publisher, I omitted the chapters. Just today she wrote to me about this and I explained I felt the book was better without being chopped up into chapters. Her opinion is that it might confuse the reader, but she's allowing me to have my way. I've read books without chapters and didn't get confused. And I'm pretty easy to confuse. For me, they flowed along "like a river". When someone (as in my book) sits down and tells you his/her story, there are no chapter breaks; only bathroom breaks.

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