Monday, July 18, 2011

Death Valley: The Middle of a Novel

by Jamie Freveletti

It's 95 degrees outside and even hotter in my air conditioned house. Why? Because I'm in the middle of one of my manuscripts. Yes, I'm at that lovely space about two thirds of the way that we writers like to call "Death Valley." It's when the plot is formed, the action moving along, and the characters heading toward discovery, BUT, they're not close enough for the last twenty five pages.

I love the last twenty five pages because they're all about momentum. These are the pages that write themselves. For me endings are just a blast to write.

But death valley is the most difficult part. That's because you need to be mindful of the red herrings that you've placed along the way, the plot points that you want to strike and the story arc that you need to hit. I always thought if I was one of those writers that use an outline I would breeze through this section, but I'm told by those writers that do outline that this is not true. They groan when I mention Death Valley, so I assume the pain is equal for them as well.

If you're a new writer beware this section. This is the time that most new authors throw in the towel. Doubts arise, it's difficult and you get a good sense of just how hard it is to write a cohesive story for as many pages as are required. That's why at writing conferences I get a slew of hands when I ask how many are in the middle and stuck.

The best advice I can give for this section is to do just a bit of research. Not a lot, mind you, or you'll just give yourself another reason to procrastinate, but a little. I've found that research will give me some more ideas that will often help me break through to the next level.

In the meantime, I'm just sitting here, sweating it out. I'd go outside for a quick break, but it's as hot out there as in here. I'll just keep on working, ignore the pain and struggle on through.
Back at you when I get to the other side!