Saturday, June 6, 2009

No Middles

I figured out my problem with both Any Woman and A Hollywood Miracle. For both novels, I plotted out beginnings and endings, but I didn't end up with enough material for a decent-sized novel.

I have no middles.

I suppose I could keep throwing complications at my characters. I would have plot in the beginning, a long string of complications, and plot at the end. I think that would be annoying to read. And to write. And I'm not sure if the result would be a strong enough novel to pursue. For either novel.

It makes me wonder if I'm a panster, rather than a plotter. As in, do I write by the seat of my pants, rather than plot?

The evidence is clear for the "panster" approach. When I wrote Starcaster and Forging a Legend, I was a panster for both. For Starcaster especially, I had no idea where I was going. I threw Tory in a sticky situation, and I let her figure her way out of it. The same for Forging a Legend. No clear ending, but when the idea for my ending did come to me, it was like a bolt out of the blue. And I really liked it. Abriel really faces what you would call "insuperable odds" to achieve a worthwhile goal.

The drawback was both took about five drafts. For Forging a Legend, which is the novel I wrote first, I had about 30,000 words in deleted scenes. For Starcaster, about half of that.

Fortunately, I always have something on a back burner. I've just started Highway of Time. As of right now, it's definitely a panster. I have some glimmers of ideas, such as a girl lost in time, and her brother looking for her. 1920s gangsters and gun molls. Time-traveling magic. Old cars. Telegrams as the fastest means of communication.

I think I'll write for 10,000 words and see how it goes.

12 comments:

  1. Good luck with the time travel story. It does sound like fun. {SMILE}

    As for the stories with no middles, I'd probably set them aside, hoping to come up with either a complication that actually adds to the plot, or else a good sub-plot. Both can exist. {Smile, cross fingers hopefully}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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  2. It's involving a lot of research. I'm thinking of reading fiction from the time period as part of my research. I happened to pick up a book that takes place in the 70s, and I forgot all about "magic fingers" hotel beds!

    Now I need a novel from each decade, going right back to the 1920s. I think I have the 50s and 20s covered. Oh, and my John Steinbeck novels have already given me a good sense of the 40s.

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  3. Middles are the toughest part for me, too. It helps to look at a beat sheet - or a plotting diagram sort of thing for me, so I don't feel like I'm just treading water for 20,000 words. I'm actually trying to do something, whether it's reverse expectations, or have the bad guys close in, or tie up a b level layer or subplot.

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  4. I would have first thought the 'panter' approach isn't a good idea, but since you said Forging and Starcaster were written that way, and I loved both of them, then clearly it works for you.

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  5. Thank you, Lisa! I keep thinking of more crazy ideas for this story. I'm going to play with it for a while longer.

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  6. I'm more of a seat-of-my-pants writer, too. I've tried outlining, and I know that writers who outline take much less time to write a book, but it just hasn't worked for me. All the outlining sucks out my excitement for the book, and I'm sick of it before I even write page 1. I do write a lot of notes, though, as ideas for future scenes come to me. It works out really well as long as I keep my notes organized and don't lose them!

    As for middles, well, they're the hardest part of the book to write, I think. I'm practically rewriting mine from scratch right now.

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  7. I think what I really want is to write the sequels to either Starcaster or Forging a Legend, and I'm having trouble getting going with any other project. Starcaster was mostly stand-alone, but I envisioned it as an open-ended series and I have two books in mind. Forging a Legend I envisioned as a trilogy from the start, so only 1/3rd of that story is told.

    I am having fun brainstorming Highway of Time, and I came up with some unexpected twists. No true plot so far, but I do have very high-level milestones.

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  8. Oh, and I know what you mean about outlining sucking the life out of your book. I use what I call "pilot scenes" to keep me inspired. My Crowley and Tory kiss scene was written long before I reached that point in the story.

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  9. I clearly see the issue! CLEARLY the NEED to create write more for Starcaster and Forging a Legend is bogging your mind and preventing your from creating 'elsewhere'. The solution is simple . . . Finish the next in the series for Starcaster, and finish all the Forging a Legend ones. If only the first drafts . . . that will help to free your mind to create elsewhere.
    Writing is about releasing those creative urges.
    hows that for begging?

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  10. It didn't sound like begging to me . . . but it sounds like a damned fine job of convincing. I think I'll tiptoe through those opening chapters and see where they take me. Maybe I'll even send them to you!

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  11. tiptoe? Well as long as you don't inhibit the natural creativity!
    Oh yes, DO send whatever you have to me :-) I'd even take a break from my Warrior series (that I just LOVE . . . I've read the first 13 of them, 7 more to go :-)

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  12. I'm honored that you'd read my novel instead of a novel about warrior cats!

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