Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Half-Way Point

Some writers agonize over the beginning of a story. I don't start writing until a good starting line shows up. Until then, the idea will bounce around, maybe get jotted down for later, but it waits until it's ready to begin.

Some writers get in a slump about 20k words into a novel. You know, past the giddy euphoria of starting a new project, introducing the characters, and the point where you have to actually figure out what the hell you're writing about. Maybe it's the type of stories I write-- the Bo Fexler mysteries-- but I tend to push through these parts. I just send Bo talking to people and digging up dirt until something shows up. (Thank you, Brain!)

Some writers get stuck at the halfway point, unsure of how to get to the climax and then resolve all those delightful problems they set up for their characters. Okay, I'm one of those. Since my problems never resolve themselves without me doing something about it, I'll fret and think and muse over the ending until I find a suitable one. And then I keep going. These tend to be some of the hardest words in a story for me. But once over the hump, it's usually pretty easy. The end is in sight, I know how to get there, and it's just a matter of finishing.

Some writers have trouble finishing. They don't know how to let go of their project. They are afraid it won't be good enough. I used to deal with this a bit, once upon a time. Now, having successfully written a slew of stories that were publishable, I feel pretty confident in my ability to judge my work long before I get to the end. I have a little trouble with closing lines-- that last zinger that matches the tone of the story, maybe has a little Bo snark to it, but doesn't read like literary Limburger.

So, going back to my post title. I am at the halfway point of my current novel in progress. I set a target word count of 70k words and have recently passed the 40k mark. I'm in that ever important middle of the story where I need to set everything up for the climax and the climactic show down. Yeah, no pressure...

Some of the set-up scenes come easy, exciting as I get to find out what's happening next in the story. Some of the set-up scenes are tough because no longer can I use vagueries-- I have to KNOW who did what, when, and where. Bleh.

Still, I am enjoying myself with this novel. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. ;-)

What's your least favorite part of a story?


Paul Brazill said...

Congratulations on keeping up the momentum. I'm sure the book will reflect that!

Jamie D. said...

Good luck pushing through your half-way point! And congrats on making it that far...

I get into earlier slumps - around that 20,000 word mark you mentioned, after the newness wears off, and I have to actually start setting up plot points for later. I have trouble with endings too - by then I'm tired, the climax is out of the way, and I just want to let the story rest. Those are normally the two times I hate my novel too.

Thanks to NaNo, I can push through them now - but it still doesn't make it fun, just doable. :-)

Verification word: emorda. Would make a good name for a fantasy heroine!

Keith Rawson said...

Keep going, Clair! 40k words is a huge accomplishment.

As far as stall out points, endings tend to be my kryptonite. I can see the end, I know what I want to do, but once I get there, I freeze up and have to step back for a couple of days.

Barbara Martin said...

Getting half way is a huge accomplishment in a novel. Just keep going.

I tend to begin writing a new story in the middle and attach a beginning much later on.

Barrie said...

I think the ending. I don't really like to wrap things up and say goodbye.