Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lost Chapter Teaches Organization Lesson

Ok. I’m not the most organized person in the world. I know, that’s a shocker for anyone who knows me *snorting here*. But last weekend, going through a revision, I discovered I’d lost a chapter. Really. It was nowhere to be found.

I was reading along about half way through the story, turned the page from one chapter to the next--and went into an entirely different place.

The heroine had been preparing for dinner, at which time she would confront her betrothed—a man she’d just met. She’d girded herself for battle, so to speak, and the chapter ended on a hook (I’d hoped.) Breathless to see what I’d written, I flipped that page—and found myself in the middle of a storm at sea.

Hummm. I checked the rest of the manuscript. I’d printed it off because it’s easier for me to check continuity that way. The story continued right along, with no more interruption and no out-of-place pages that I might have gotten mixed up. Didn’t find that chapter. Had no memory of what happened in the missing link.

I was so upset, I had to get up and get a cup of coffee and a peanut butter cookie.

Let me explain that part. Last weekend I went on a write-in sort of getaway at a campground several miles away. Seven women were there, along with an employee of the organization that owns the camp who cooked for us Saturday and again Sunday morning. OhMyGosh!! Food was homemade and So good. But I digress LOL.

This manuscript was one I finished at the end of 2011 and was so sick of, I hadn’t looked at it since. Last month, I decided to haul it out and try to get it in shape to send out at least once or twice. (It had done pretty well in contests last year.) I’d gotten through about half and decided to take the last half to the write-in for editing and revision.

That’s when the error was discovered. Saturday, I spent a good deal of time searching the computer and finally found the problem. I’d picked up the wrong file when I merged chapters. After a few whispered prayers of ‘Thanks,’ I realized the blame partly lay in my writing process.

I write in chapters, then merge them all. I’d revised that particular chapter, saved it under another name, but picked up the old chapter when I assembled the whole book. I was so relieved I celebrated with another peanut butter cookie.

That scare taught me a valuable lesson in organization, and my writing process will be structured differently from now on. 

What about you. Have you ever ‘lost’ a piece of your story? How do you organize a WIP?


  1. I've never lost a piece of my story like that, but I used to write chapters whenever the mood struck then I put it all together. It took a little longer. Now I do an outline, write the book, and then add in details. The more I write and learn how to edit, my process gets more refined. Still need polishing though, lol
    Great post! And your getaway sounds fun :)

  2. I've never lost a piece of story like that, Barb, but I have lost edits that I made after my computer locked up. I make sure to save regularly when I'm editing.

    Like Kellie, I do an outline and then write the book. I save different drafts, just in case I change my mind about something major in the story. I'm still tweaking the process, especially the outline and editing. My editing skills need to be improved so it's not taking me 2 year to edit a book. LOL.