Writers’ habits, they fascinate me. My own included.

One of mine, dear to me, is the habit of shorthanding the names of chapters or scenes, my mnemonic for referring to them elsewhere.

Sleighride. Gethsemane. Inconvenient places. 2000. Papa gets up. Mad skillz. Bridge. Driveby. Some of these are chapter titles—parts of titles, anyway. Some are an analogy. Some are subject matter. All are sparks to me; cues enough, keys enough, to unlock whole worlds.

Like the writerly ability to remember where on a notebook page a specific note lives, even though it was laid there months ago…like the arcane chemistries of finding chapter titles that evoke entire progressions of thought in one word…how one settles on the mnemonics of personal shorthand is a delightful mystery.

These shorthand examples are tests, in a way: That miniaturization of thinking is the concentration of flavor from a good stock or wine reduced to its more essential self—and changed in the reduction. If it feels right, tastes right, in that ultra-focused state, there’s a chance that what it stands for might be right, too.

The opposite, however, is not true. A weak mnemonic doesn’t necessarily mean a weak chapter…at least, I hope it doesn’t. An assembly of the writer’s mnemonics is not a reflection of a story’s progression the way an artful chapter title will be, should be.

So. This writer’s quirks and habits. The fuzzy reflections of a tapped-out head.

Enough of mine…what are yours?

 

 

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