Write a Chapter a Week

Imagine… if you could write one chapter a day – a first draft – you’d have your first completed (draft) manuscript finished within a month.

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? You’d think it would be easy to write say 10 or 12 pages a day. Simple! For some this may be the case but for most, it is not.

OK, let’s be more realistic. Let’s say that we can write one chapter a week. Now this is setting a much easier goal and it’s more likely you’ll achieve it. If we did this we’d be writing a complete manuscript in roughly six or seven months. This would mean a word count of approximately 100,000 words and as unpublished authors, this is the recommended length of our first unpublished manuscript.

With the first draft down on paper, you will be able to go back and revise efficiently because not only are you still feeling enthusiastic about the storyline, you will be able to remember most of it! Some of us (yes, I include myself here) take so long writing our precious masterpieces that we actually forget how the story started – that’s how long it has taken to write the thing.

There’s nothing worse than reaching the revision stage and then thinking – “I am so sick of this story!” Of course you are, you’ve been writing it for 2 years (maybe even 5 years). You need to write something new and exciting. So, if this sounds like you – maybe the “one chapter a week” method is exactly what you’ve been looking for. I know I’m going to give it a try.

Is this a method that could benefit you too?

The Great Fire of 1666

Soon after midnight on Sunday 2 September 1666 a fire broke out in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane, near London Bridge. It spread rapidly through the narrow streets where the high houses were tightly packed together. Like trees in a forest, they were tinder-dry after a long hot summer.

The Thames was so low that little water could be pumped up to fight the flames. The fire soon burnt the watersheels under the bridge which worked the pumps. By dawn it had readed the warehouses around London Bridge. They were full of inflammable materials such as tallow, sugar, oil, spirits, coal, hay and timber. A strong wind blowing from the east fanned the flames. The fire spread from the burning warehouses, first along the riverfront and then inland across the city. Sparks were blown by the wind and fell on thatched roofs and timbers, starting new fires and filling the sky with flame and smoke. In places the fire raced across the rooftops faster than a man could walk. In the streets below some people tried frantically to save themselves and their possessions while others tried in vain to fight and stop the fire. They were handicapped by carts, laden with goods, blocking the narrow streets.


For three days the wind blew and the fire raged through the densely packed streets and up the little hill which brought it to the centre of the city. Nother was spared; 87 of London’s 109 churches caught fire, the flames from their steeples marking the progress of the fire. The houses of the rich merchants and the halls of their trading companies, with their treasures in painting and woodwork, were consumed; the great oak roof of the Guildhall, centre of London’s government, burnt only eight days after orders had been given for extensive repairs to be made. Six acres of lead melted from the roof and crashed through the foor, shattering the tombs beneath, and the stones cracked causing fragments to fly in all directions.

By Wednesday, the fire had gone past the city wall and into the Liberties. It seemed about to spread to the royal palaces at Westminster when the wind dropped, the firefighters gained control and the fire ended almost as quickly as it had begun.

The Castle

The early castles were usually a type called motte-and-bailey. Castle builders made a huge, steep, earth mound surrounded by a very deep ditch. Around the top of the mound they erected a timber wall. Within the wall was a stronghold called a keep which was usually a tall, wooden, rectangular tower. Below the motte there was a large area enclosed by its own ditch and wall. This was the bailey. Usually the castle’s commander and his family lived in the keep, and his soldiers, with their horses and supplies, were housed in buildings in the bailey.


While the outside walls of a castle were often whitewashed, so that they gleamed in the sunlight. The walls inside were also whitewashed. In the great hall and the nobles’ chambers, the walls were often paneled with wood, painted white or in colours such as green and gold, and even embellished with murals. Hangings of painted cloth provided more decoration and helped cut down on drafts.

In the fourteenth century tapestries became popular wall coverings. Floors during this period, however, were generally bare wood or stone, strewn with sweet-smelling rushes and herbs. To take advantage of the natural light in order to read, do needlework or simply to view the garden, a cushioned window seat was usually placed beneath the large windows. Other lighting was provided by candles made from animal fat or sometimes (if it could be afforded) beeswax and oil lamps. Fireplaces provided both light and heat.

High, curtained beds, with feather filled mattresses piled with quilts and fur blankets kept the lords and ladies warm at night. The bed was so large that usually there was little other furniture in the chamber – just a few stools and carved wooden chests for storage. Close to the chamber would be a garderobe, a kind of indoor outhouse with a seat located over a chute that generally led to the moat. This may have been convenient but there was no toilet paper; hay was used instead.

The castle’s residents ate their meals together in the great hall, so a kitchen building was usually close by. Food was stored in or near the hall. A well and several cisterns, which caught rainwater, supplied water to the castle.

Is it full?

The following was in an email sent by a member of my writing group. Thanks, Joy. I think it tells a good story and wanted to share it. The words that follow spoke to me and I hope they speak to you too.

A professor filled a quart mason jar with golf balls and asked if the jar was full.

The professor then asked the other students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So, the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more, if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous, “Yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table, and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions – things that if everything else was lost, and only they remained, your life could still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles, or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

5 Act Plan

I’m not sure where the information originally came from but thanks go to Kristine from the AFWD group for sharing.

1) Exposition or Introduction

Establishes tone, setting, some of main characters, previous events to understand play, and main conflict.

2) Rising Action

A series of complications for the protagonist that come out of the main conflict.

3) Crisis or Turning Point

The Technical Climax
The moment of choice for the protagonist

4) Falling Action

Presents the incidents resulting from the protagonist’s decision at the turning point.

5) Resolution or Denouement

The conclusion
The unraveling of the plot
Includes the catastrophe of the hero’s and others’ deaths
Includes the dramatic climax of the play

Moving on to Step 4

I decided to add the link to the Snowflake Process to the navigation bar to your right. It’s worth trying.

I have spent longer than I planned on Step 3 and I’m still not entirely happy with the profiles I have but I will go back and modify them later. I think I need to work out more of the plot first and Step 4 (of the Snowflake Process) will help me do just that.

I really like the process so far. It’s common sense and find plot holes before you start writing. I’ve discovered more than I bargained for and my characters have been given new personalities because the characters I had couldn’t handle the situations I intend to put them in. These revised characters will learn and grow, and I feel excited for them.

Anyway, Step 4 requires that I expand the one paragraph storyline into a one page synopsis. That will be killing two birds with one stone – I like that!

Passage by Connie Willis

I’ve been reading a lot of young adult novels lately and think it’s time I read something for adults. Passage has been sitting on my book shelf for some time and the blurb sounds interesting. It’s not fantasy but that will probably make a pleasant change.

The novel is over 700 pages long and as I’m a slow reader, it will be a while before I report finishing this story. I haven’t started it yet but would like to make a start tonight… hopefully.

Doomsday Book by the same author was excellent. I felt as if I experienced life in medieval times that was suffering the plague. It was a real look at a time that would have been awful to live through yet we tend to romanticise.

Preparing a Mummy

mummyWarning: This is not suitable for children or the faint hearted.

The Egyptians believed that there was a life after death. According to them, when someone died the soul went on living and needed its body to return to. So the body was carefully preserved in a process called mummification. High-ranking officials, priests and other nobles who had served the pharaoh and his queen had fairly elaborate burials. The pharaohs, who were believed to become gods when they died, had the most magnificent burials of all.

The dead person’s body was taken to the embalmers, skilled men who treated it so that it would not decay. First they took out the brains and internal organs like the heart, placing them in special canopic jars. The lids of these jars were fashioned after the four sons of Horus, who were each entrusted with protecting a particular organ:

jarsQebehsenuef, the falcon head — intestines
Duamutef, the jackal head — stomach
Hapy, the baboon head — lungs
Imsety, the human head — liver

    Then the body was washed and cleaned, filled with sweet smelling spices and covered with natron, a kind of soda. After 70 days the body would be quite dry and preserved. Then it was cleaned again and rubbed with unguents to aid in preserving the mummy’s skin. If the dead person had been rich, the body was also decorated with fine jewellery.

    TombviewNext the mummy was carefully wrapped in long linen bandages. Fingers and toes were covered with protective gold caps and individually wrapped with long, narrow strips of linen. Arms and legs were also wrapped, then the entire body was wrapped to a depth of about twenty layers. Magic objects called amulets were put between the layers of bandage to give extra protection in the next life.

    Finally, the mummy was put in a coffin shaped like a human figure. These coffins were often richly decorated with paintings of the gods and accounts of the dead person’s life. Only then was a person ready for the journey across the Nile and the start of the next life.