I have had a bit of a struggle with The Novel for the last week or so. I’m nearing the End of the Middle (assuming it remains one book and doesn’t become three as I think it might) and it is getting hard to keep the story moving forward, and I haven’t had any idea why.
The Beginning was fairly straightforward. Not easy, but came to me fairly readily. I have an extremely good idea how things are going to End. Details will need to be worked out and given flesh, but the basic structure of it is there.
This morning I figured out why the Middle has been such a struggle. It is episodic – a series of basically unrelated or loosely related events strung together in a most tenuous fashion. There isn’t a real story or plot driving that portion of the book.
I have a few choices in front of me on how to deal with this.
1) Decide it is irredeemable crap, toss it in the round file, and start over.
2) Start the editing/revision process in an effort to salvage the story before it gets much further along.
3) Forge ahead and fix things later during the revision process.
While all three options have merit, the last is how I have decided to proceed. Starting over entirely is most daunting, but more appealing for some reason than starting a revise/edit cycle and trying to resolve what is already written with ideas and concepts that aren’t even solidified yet. And the recent revision of The Script made it quite clear that Creation and Revision are two different skills/mindsets that are both complimentary and in conflict at the same time. I find it easier to turn one on at a time rather than run them in parallel.
I am becoming more and more a fan of the ‘don’t be afraid of crappy drafts’ line of thinking. Get it all on paper and fix it later. I can worry about the ideas themselves today and continuity and consistency tomorrow.
PS – I’ve sent a goal for myself: Finish the first draft in the next 30 days (basically by my next birthday, which falls in the middle of next month). With a target length of 100k words, I have just over 38k words to go. Divide that by 30 and I need to put down an average of 1275 words per day down to make that goal. Very doable, and I expect to have a better idea of whether is one book or three by then.
PPS – I’ve heard back from one of my Trusted Readers already regarding The Script. I should have his notes in hand early next week. I am simultaneously eager and afraid to what his feedback is.