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Writing A Novel–Getting Stuck

October 19, 2010

I have heard many times that the hardest parts of writing a book are writing the middle and just finishing the thing in the first place.  Usually the beginning and the end are the easiest–of course you know how it starts and how it ends, right?

I disagree.  I think there is no easy part, yet there is no one hard part either.  Writing my first book, I knew how I wanted it to start (or how it used to start–I’ve since revised it) but I didn’t know exactly how I wanted it to end until I hit about the tenth chapter.  Then I knew where I wanted to work toward and took it from there.

But in my second book, the sequel to the first, I knew how to start it, and sort-of how to end it, but the middle wasn’t much of a mystery.  The problem with Book 2 has been finishing the thing.  Actually getting it written.  While I disagree with the first common saying about the beginning, middle, and end, I do agree with the second saying.  Sometimes, finishing the book is the hardest thing to do.  I had a billion other ideas that I wanted to follow, but if I was going to finish the second book I couldn’t.  I wrote them down and filed them away for other storylines, and plugged away at writing the second story.  Not to mention all the other things that interfere with writing: schoolwork, jobs, even family.  Wow, has it been difficult!

Thinking that one part of the writing process is going to be more difficult than another is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy–if you think the middle is going to be tough, it probably will be.  If you think finishing the book is going to be impossible, it will be.  The best way to attack both of these common sayings is to try planning out what comes next.  Even if you don’t really like what you plan–you’re going to edit the manuscript anyway, you can edit it later.

What’s important is moving past whatever mountain is blocking the path of the writing.  I went back almost two years later to my first book and completely overhauled the first two chapters.  Until I did that, the original chapters worked well enough, they simply weren’t stellar and weren’t my best effort.  I changed them later into something far better.  It’s the same concept–jut writing something, even if it’s not the best scene in the story.  You can change it afterward, but if it gets you writing past the I-can’t-write-the-middle-section or the I-can’t-write-the-rest-of-the-book block, then it’s worth its weight in gold.

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