Here’s a challenge that will separate the brave and possibly dumb writers from the cowardly and perhaps more intelligent ones. Read on for details.
Charles Dickens was probably literature’s greatest pantser. When he died, in 1870, he left one of the world’s most famous unfinished novels, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Attempting to finish this book has become something of a cottage industry, in part because Dickens left behind not a note, not a scrap of a note, not a sentence fragment, to indicate where he was going with the story.
But he was an even more committed pantser than that would suggest. As he wrote sections of the book, they were immediately published in monthly installments that began in April of 1870 and were supposed to continue through March of 1871. Dickens’ death, however, cut it short when he was exactly halfway through; only six of the planned dozen installments ever saw print.
This means that Dickens was not only making it up as he went along, but that he couldn’t go back and rewrite. Whatever he wrote in those early chapters, he was stuck with it.
Is anyone reading this brave enough (or crazy enough) to take the Dickens challenge? Write a chapter a week or so and post them as you finish them until you’ve gotten through a whole novel (or novella, if you come up short).
I’m thinking about doing it. If two other people will bite the bullet, I’ll commit: I’ll post a chapter in a few days. I want to keep the commitment time short so neither I nor anyone else can knock out a book, go back and fix it, and then start posting a chapter at a time.
I’ll be posting my effort here. I’d be happy to host anyone else’s effort, or to link my site to it.