Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Dreaded Middle



Yep. I'm there.

Things were going along just fine, then BOOM, now I'm stalling and backtracking. As you can see by my less than stellar count below. I should be 50% of the way to my goal.

I had a plot chart, but these things never go according to plan. My characters are having conversations that I didn't authorize and extending their stay in Las Vegas. Then they told me they weren't having sex at the appointed time. How dare they?

Actually, except for some frustration while I wait for them to point me in the right direction, I'm glad they are leading me around on a leash. At least my characters are talking to me and I've learned how to listen.

I shouldn't complain so much about the much maligned middle. I have a general idea of where we're headed. It's like a map that shows you a road through the middle of nowhere, but you've yet to discover what the actual scenery looks like. The extras just define the journey.

But I want to run headlong and have the story pour out of me without the pauses and struggles. I can always tell when I'm back on track because the flow picks up again.

How do you know you're on the right track? Is it in the feel of the story, the speed with which it comes to you, or just those exhilirating aha moments when everything becomes clear?

Angel



Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
23,000 / 50,000
(46.0%)

16 comments:

Smarty Pants said...

I know I'm on the right track when the words just come out of me. No cussing, no stomping around the house, no tile scrubbing...the pages just start adding up. I'm especially happy when I skip a scene and after writing a bit, can go back and fill that scene in because I know what happens now. I wish all my writing went like that.

SP

Instigator said...

When the words flow I know I'm on the right track. When an hour can pass and feel like minutes. When I get completely lost in the story and don't notice what's going on around me (which is why I try to write only when the girls are safe and occupied because I can easily forget everything but the characters).

I hate the middle too - and am there right now myself. I know some of the trouble is self induced. If I wasn't a panster maybe I'd have more planned out than I do. I'd miss things though - important things that I allow my characters the freedom to reveal when I don't have everything planned.

Instigator

Playground Monitor said...

I've heard people talk about being in the "zone" and once or twice I've been there. It was amazing! The words just flew -- almost faster than I could write them. Usually it's write a couple lines, stop and think, write another line, re-think the line before that, go potty, write another couple lines, get a drink, read what I've written thus far, go potty again... well, you get the drift.

PM

Angel said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one, PM! :)

Angel

Kathy said...

I'm back (Yeah!) and I can certainly relate to PM's description of her writing process. Sometimes I sit in front of the computer screen, time passing wihtout my knowledge, not realizing that I've stared at the wording of the same sentence for nearly an hour. Sure, it's time for lunch, but I'm unaware. No, that same sentence laughs at me, taunting with maniacal zeal. Lord, but I hate that! How can I make it stop? My mind screams. It's like being in slow motion on an action film never being able to pick up speed. Or better yet, the Six Million Dolloar Man or Woman T.V. shows. DDAADDDAADDAADDDA, except I'm not really going at the speed of sound like they supposedly were, no I'm actually going DDADDADDDDADDDDADDdaa, slow mo.

Good to be home, ya'll!
Kathy

Smarty Pants said...

Kathy, if you're fixating on something like that, I find the best thing to do is highlight it so you know to go back and fix it later, then move on to the next thing. I actually find that the problem I've run into one day isn't a problem later when I look at it again with fresh eyes.

SP

Kathy said...

Good tip, SP! I've found that hard to do in the past because I'm such a darned perfectionist. But I will change my ways, if it's the last thing I do. LOL.

Thanks,
Kathy

Kelley said...

I am at 39,000 words, about halfway done with my novel and I havent written in over a week. I cant make the words come. This is my first novel so I dont know what to expect. I was getting frustrated. So I started working on a novella that I have been wanting to write. I'm hoping that by getting myself in the grove again I will be able to write on my novel in the next week or so. I have no idea if starting the novella will work but it is worth a try. I'm doing well with it so far. I'm at almost 2,000 words and just started it yesterday. We'll see what happens.

Is it always like that when you get to the middle of a book?

Instigator said...

It always is for me Kelley. It doesn't matter how much preplanning I've done I always get bogged down somewhere between chapters 5 and 9. Usually after that things start flowing again.

The last couple of books I've allowed myself to jump ahead to the good points, skipping 2 or 3 whole chapters. It was a nightmare to go back and fix.

You might want to consider a challenge like the one we're doing. It really does help to have other people along for the same ride. There have been plenty of days I would have preferred not to write but knowing Angel and SP were there waiting for my totals made me push through more than I let slide.

Instigator

Kelley said...

What type of challenge are you doing? Did you just set up a certain amount you had to type per day or something?

Instigator said...

Yep, we're currently in the middle of a six week challenge. Each of us have a different daily goal based on how many words our finished rough draft needs to have. We post (to each other) what we complete in a day. That way we all know if someone's slacking :-) and we'll plant a boot in their rear if they need it. No one's needed it yet :-) Although I might need it tonight.

Instigator

Kelley said...

Great idea :)

Angel said...

I appreciate everyone's comments today! Y'all have really been an encouragement and made me think.

Kathy, Smarty Pants is right. Marking what needs to be fixed and coming back to it later is one very good way to continue making progress. Try it!

Kelley, my sympathies on the stall in your book. I, also, have found that somewhere in the middle is where I start having problems. Moving away from it and working on something else can help, just don't let it distract you forever.

Spend some time brainstorming different avenues that your story could travel from here. Also, check to see if something about the plotline doesn't jive with your characters (for instance, the previous scene actually doesn't belong in your book because your heroine wouldn't react like a simpering little miss, instead she'd take a frying pan to his head).

For myself, I pushed through today and managed 13 handwritten pages (equivalent of 6.5 typed). Even more exciting, I did some brainstorming for the end. It is coming together much nicer now. Woohoo!!!!

Angel

Instigator said...

Yay Angel!! I'm really proud of you.

Instigator

Problem Child said...

Ahh, high-speed access: I can comment again.

Kelley--middles are tough for a lot of writers. All I can say is, Slog on, My friend!

Look out y'all....I'M BACK!!!!

Kelley said...

Thanks for your encouragment and help everyone :)