Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Filler Chapters

My writing marathon the other day worked out well. I finished two chapters and I'm almost finished the next. After I finished chapter 5, I realized why it was a drag for me. It's a filler chapter, haha!

I normally plan filler chapters in advance, or at least know when a filler chapter is needed before it's written. But chapter 5 snuck up on me. As far as fillers go, it's the most interesting filler I've ever written. I'm seriously laughing about this. I was so eager to get to the fun stuff in chapter 6, I almost didn't write chapter 5. And I still didn't realize 5 is filler. Go figure.

Filler chapters are often a necessary evil. They can seem like a chore, but very much needed to maintain a consistent thread through the story. A brige between two points, if you will. I've read books where it seems the author couldn't tell the difference between filler and just making crap up. Unfortunate, because there's a huge difference.

Fillers still have a plot, or at least a reminder of the plot. It would be downright silly for me to write a chapter about something completely unrelated. Something like, a choreographed disco dance around a bonfire in the middle of a post-apocalypse story, where disco doesn't exist. Humorous, but silly and unnecessary. Might be appropriate if I was writing a parody, but I'm not.

So it is important to maintain related content in filler chapters for a novel. Graphic novels and comic books (though they're the same thing, really) can have cute fillers with a subplot. But they're still related! It might be easier in comics, because of the visual similarities, but the same principle applies to novel writing. The fillers should have a purpose - further the plot, introduce a new character, provide a moment of comedy relief, etc. This is all a part of the craft of creative writing. Every chapter, pargraph, every single word, should be there for a conscious reason.

In essence, filler chapters should read like they're not fillers at all. How an author organizes elements, and how the reader perceives these elements, two different things. In novel writing, filler is a term for the author, but never seen by the readers.

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