Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stuck in the Middle

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

I’m working on my first novel, a fantasy epic set in another world.  The beginning was easy, I could scarcely keep up with the flow of ideas and scenes in my head. I would type for an entire afternoon, only stopping when interrupted by my husband returning home from work. Beginning a new story is a little like entering into a new romance, everything is new and exciting. Anything can happen and optimism is high.

That was seven months ago. The shiny has rubbed off. Excitement over new discoveries has given way to plot holes and sagging middles. I’ve seen this story at 4am.  The honeymoon is definitely over.

For starters, the first half is entirely too long while missing key story elements. The  characters are thinly sketched, the world building needs work and consistency, and I’m sure I’ve lost a sup-plot. In fact, I’m not certain that I’ve set the beginning properly at all. At around sixty-four thousand words, somehow the beginning had shifted.  Those first few chapters seemed extraneous, the beginning action was now in chapter three - or maybe even four. Those first chapters need to be cut.  In general, writing needs to be tighter.  I’m going to have to go back and add content, but cull word volume.

I didn’t start out with an outline. This is a story that has taken up space in my head for many years. In preparing for NaNoWriMo (last year's NaNo being the beginning of this novel), I pulled up some old notes and beginnings of character sketches, but I had no plot outline. I dove in and went for it. Shlepping through the middle, I’m finding that I’m going through this part of the story blind. 

How do I get to the end, and better yet, what the hell is the end? This may be my problem. I really am not sure where I’m going and neither are my characters. They are meandering about the blank screen. No wonder the writing is feeling a bit dull.

In an earlier post, I wrote about using some tricks for writing out of a bad patch (or slow patch). I could use some of those ideas again to get through this place in the novel, but it feels like it is time to sit down and work out the ending of this novel and the story arc. Not only has the beginning shifted, but I think the main story plot has changed, too.

Woa - the novel is an unwieldy beast!

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