A friend of mine sent me Roseanne Cash’s latest CD, The List. I’ve probably listened to it two hundred times now. I’m growing a little weary of the first song, but every other song still grabs me. They’re all remakes of old songs and from a wide variety of artists so the styles are not similar. Roseanne made these songs hers, gave them her own voice and did a fantastic job.

It’s probably one of the very few albums I like every song. Most times, I buy a cd for a few songs and tolerate the others. Sometimes I eventually grow to like the other songs, but usually I just skip through them.

I think this is why iTune is so great. I can buy only the songs I truly love without having to listen to, or skip through, a bunch of stuff I don’t like.

Wild Mountain Thyme by The Silencers is a prime example. I’m not sure I would like the rest of their music enough to buy the CD. So far I’ve only found one song I really like and I don’t think I would pay $15 for one song even though I’ve done that in the past.

What if a book is like that? The first chapter has been workshopped and polished to death, but the appeal of the writing and story drops off dramatically after that. Readers aren’t going to be satisfied with one good chapter and just keep reading it. You have to pull them right on into the next chapter and every one after that. Your chapter can’t be a one-hit wonder.

As most of you know, I am doing the final revision on Far Rider before it goes to my last batch of beta readers. I’m a lot happier with this version even though I’m over word count again. 141,625 words, to be exact and that’s after cutting some already. I’m working on it! The story is still complex, but it’s also more focused. The MC is a stronger, more compelling character. Erokath, the demon, is a force to be reckoned with. Even the minor characters are more vivid, and building memorable characters is one of my strengths.

Now that I’m going back through the chapters again, I’ve been thinking about The List. This is what I want Far Rider to be. Every chapter should be so pleasing that a reader would buy it as a stand alone. Now I realize that’s not how books sell today, though they used to come out in installments, but that’s the approach I’m taking.

I look at one chapter and I fall in love with it. The characters are alive and vibrant. The action and dialogue are spot on. It sparkles and I highlight it in bright yellow. It’s a chapter I would buy on iChapters.

Other chapters are close, but not quite there. They need to be fine-tuned and taken to the next level.

Then there are the chapters that are just hanging around. I need them because they are part of the support structure for the story, but they’re more like a sweet little mouse than the prowling lion I was looking for.

The temptation, especially after you’ve worked on a story a long time, is to think it’s good enough. I think the secret of success, however, is to look at each one and honestly assess if it’s strong enough to become an iChapter or even an iParagraph. Will someone pick this chapter out of all the other chapters out there and say, “Yes, I want this enough to buy it.”


  1. Very cool way of looking at it. That’s very much like what I’m doing with my current project, aka the one I’m doing to keep myself from going insane while the other is preparing to go out into the cold cruel world.

  2. Ah, but you also have to measure your life in terms of miles as well as fathoms.

    Certainly, you want to make each six feet of the journey as fascinating as possible. But by concentrating a week on each fathom, you may be costing yourself miles in the long run.

    There’s no such thing as “good enough” for most writers. And if you ever look back at something you wrote two years ago and think that it’s excellent, you are probably not growing enough in your skills.

    Strive for perfect balance, rather than perfect everything.

    My 2p.

  3. Julie, I’m so happy to hear of your progress on FR. (And I really like the new title, too.)

    What is iChapters?

    (And Stephanie–yes, I miss you and Julie and the whole Gnome gang.)

  4. Hi Julie – I like the idea of iChapters. That’s a good way to look at revision, and perhaps make it less daunting (one chapter at a time, rather than the whole thing.)

  5. Stephanie,

    I miss you too, gal. Look up Wild Mountain Thyme by The Silencers on youtube. I am obsessed with that song.

    I still need to write about the retreat and the kilt boy and the dinner.

    We had so much fun. Wish I could move to Evergreen. It’s beautiful up there.

  6. Stephanie,

    I miss you too, gal. Look up Wild Mountain Thyme by The Silencers on youtube. I am obsessed with that song.

    I still need to write about the retreat and the kilt boy and the dinner.

    We had so much fun. Wish I could move to Evergreen. It’s beautiful up there.

  7. Beth, I love Far Rider now. I’m doing the final read through now. I found a text to speech program I may buy and have it read to me. I know it’s best to read it aloud, but the sound of my voice grates on my nerves after a while.

    I can’t thank you enough for all the advice you gave. I think it has a genuine shot now.

    You’ll also be happy to know the frozen pebbles have been replaced with frozen stinkhorn mushrooms.

    iChapters is just my term for chapters that are so interesting the reader will not want to miss them.

  8. Beth,

    Hey to you! MISS YOU! You need to move to Colorado!


    Oh, I did go and check out that video. IT IS terrific! Isn’t his daughter lovely? So fresh-faced and young, and a beautiful voice to boot!

    Hurry and move to Evergreen!

  9. She was 16 in that video and the first time she had sang publicly I think. Such a beautiful voice. I wish they had made more traditional type songs like that.

    Yes, I definitely need to move somewhere.

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