A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: New

See? I told you I’d actually write about things not related to the two books I’m about to release into the wild. Can’t help it, honestly. I know posting only about my books makes me a bore. Heck, it bores me to be so boring.

BUT! This is my shameless marketing plug for those of you who’ve missed recent events. Firstly, I’m still looking for people who’ll spread the word, so if you’d like to help, please click here. Then, The Vanished Knight is back on Goodreads and available for pre-order. Click here for more info. 

Right. Now that’s done. Time for the proper post.

New

If you’re still new to the writing gig, you’re probably approaching the whole thing with stars in your eyes. It’s a wonderful feeling, that liberal sense of endless possibility mixed with the delusion that your muse is actually your friend.

In this time, you’re going to find that you’re very productive. You’ll be able to churn out hundreds or thousands of words every day while you’re exploring the characters, world and story.

If you’re a veteran to the fiction writing gig, you’ll be writing like a madman-or woman, trying to get as many words down as possible while the going is good.

Why? Because for most of us, the feeling of “newness” wears off around the time we hit the middle of the story. (The exception to this being those writers who can write 10k words per day, every day, for a week. I know exactly one such writer.)

The sucky thing about the newness wearing off at this particular point is that usually, the middles are the hardest parts to get right. Because the middle will usually be where you discover plot holes. The middle is where you’ll find that your goal is too weak to sustain a story. Where you’ll find that the stakes aren’t what they should be. Where other characters start clamoring for the title of “Main Character”.

So exactly when the newness fades (and perhaps because of it), we’re faced with the harsh realities of our story. Mainly, those realities circle around the fact that the story really isn’t as good as we thought. (More on this later.)

Either way, the middle is arguably the place where most people lose steam and give up.

Don’t. Be. That. Person. 

Remember when I said that you need discipline more than inspiration? This is where the change happens. Once the newness is gone, you need to find it within yourself to keep going.

But while the story is new, get as much writing done as possible. The more you get done, the more momentum you have. Which in plain English means that the more you’ve written, the less intimidating the rest of the required word count will look.

So whatever you do, don’t procrastinate while your story’s new.

Because newness has a fixed expiry date. And your time’s ticking.

Anyone here capable of huge word counts in a day? Do you also have your writing slump when the newness wears off? By how much? 

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A to Z Challenge: Not the Middle!!!

I’ve noticed it a lot that if one says the word “middle” in the writing community, more often than not, you will get a groan back.

Yeah… sagging middles are the bane of many a writer’s existence.

So why do they happen?

There are a variety of reasons, but I can think of mainly three. 

Credit

First reason: flow. The middle portion of a story tends to be much longer than either the beginning or the ending sections. So odds are that you’ll get a sagging middle, if your pacing is off and you’re writing too many scenes where nothing important happens.

Second reason: Your ending is in the wrong place. If it feels like a moment in your story’s middle should be the ending, anything after that point will feel boring right up to the ending. Even if the climax is after that point. Sad, but true. For proof, think of the movie Casino Royal with Daniel Craig.

Third reason: Stakes. Your story should be raising the stakes for the characters all the time. All the way to the climax. How sharply or gradually this happens depends on the story and characters, but they do have to be raised. Slack down on the raising of stakes and the story will slacken. Especially around the middle.

If you’re lucky, it’s number one, where the solution might be as easy as a few deletions. On the other hand, the other two reasons require substantial work, so if your story has a sagging middle, try to check out the pacing first.
If the problem is from reason no 2, you might have to cut everything after the point mentioned above out and write it into a possible sequel. Best case scenario that I can think of would be revising the scenes leading into and out of the moment causing the sagging middle, in a way that means that you can take the moment out.

If stakes are your problem, I suspect that rewrites and revisions will be needed, but to see why, you’ll have to come back on R-Day.

Sagging middles aren’t impossible to solve, but they take a lot of patience and hard work to fix in edits. Which is why I try to keep the middle boosted right from the start. Failing that, from the rewrite onwards.

Look Out for These:

1) Flow issues.

2) Moments that look like the ending, but that aren’t in fact close to it.

3) Stakes not being raised.

What reasons do you find cause sagging middles? How do you solve them?