let the chips fall where they may

Do what you intend to do, no matter what the results may be. In other words, when chopping wood, pay attention to the main task and don’t worry about the small chips.

This idiom comes from the world of logging, probably late 1800s. When you chop down a tree, every time the axe bites into the trunk, pieces of wood (chips) scatter. While you’re cutting, you don’t worry about those chips flying around. You don’t really care where they land, because you’ll deal with these minor details later.

The same philosophy applies to writing, so the experts say. Write the story and don’t worry about spelling, grammar or anything else until you’ve told the tale. Then go back and tidy up the details, including all the plot holes you didn’t notice the first time through. I agree with this philosophy, though I can’t resist doing a little editing as I go.

Writing is rewriting, though. Some people (though I doubt that) may get it right in the first draft and more people hate rewriting. But I love it. I like polishing the sentences and paragraphs and all the details of the story. Rewriting is when I get rid of all the errors and rough bumps that tend to trip the reader up…and, unfortunately…take that person right out of the story. You just don’t want that ever to happen; you want the reader to keep turning the pages, eager for what happens next.

So I’m hacking at the next tree trunk. Now that Deception Bay is in print and online, I’m working on a 4-volume science fiction series tentatively titled Centuries, and I’m up to my knees in chips!

  One thought on “let the chips fall where they may

  1. Betty Burroughs
    August 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Irene, I’d love a copy of Deception Bay….sounds like my kind of book!! I am going to try to make it to Curves tomorrow……will you be there? I’m off chemo now and feel so much better…..just need to tone up my muscles again! Hope to see you, Betty


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