I’ve been writing around my midpoint for a couple of weeks now. When I say “around,” what I mean is that I keep writing toward it, keep approaching it, but keep pushing it further and further away as well.
Maybe that didn’t clarify anything after all.
Okay, so I have a tendency to write long in my first drafts. I think I’ve mentioned that at some point before. But I write a lot of words in order to have a few which I keep.
I’ve aimed to have a 100k novel at the end of this rewrite (which is probably rewrite 2.5, since I rewrote the first half of the novel before realizing I had issues with the plot and then stepped back to outline, after which I started rewriting again).
Having 100k words means that my midpoint should hit right at the 50k mark.
Ohh. Problems. Because at the time of writing this post, I am at 53,864 words and I have several scenes, probably long ones, to go before I hit the midpoint.
Every time I look at that number, I wonder if I’m losing focus. Am I jumping off on rabbit trails with my characters (mostly the subplots)? Am I repeating myself? Or am I creating meaningless conversations just to meet my daily word count?
It’s a daily dilemma, really. Every time I open Scrivener to start writing, I focus on that little word target.
Yep. This one. I want to be at 65k by the end of this month, and I’ll be there. But in terms of being where I should be by 65k, I don’t think I will. If you are familiar with plot points at all, you’ll know that you ought to structure your novel around them. The first plot point (pivot point #1) happens at 20-25%, the midpoint at 50%, and the second plot point (pivot point #2) at 75%. This is the main structure, the three act structure. My novel should fall into that, and I’ve plotted it to be so.
In the grand scheme of things–and what I am trying to tell myself–is that at the end of this draft, a few extra words won’t matter that much. If my midpoint is off by a few pages, a few thousand words, it won’t matter too much–that’s what draft 3 is for after all. But I don’t want to clock in at 120k or more. That’s too much, it’s probably going to mean my novel is padded with too much unnecessary story.
The middles are always a difficult point for me to write through, and the more I write, the more I realize this. I start to lose my way around the middle. Either I start to lose interest, or I start to think that my novel isn’t good enough, or I begin to think I’ve written too much or not enough. Case in point is draft 1.5, where I abandoned my revision halfway through the novel because I realized that I had a lot of problems with my manuscript as it was; it required extensive revision, more than I could give it in a regular edit–it had to be rewritten completely.
So what’s a girl to do when you have to plow through the middle in order to get to the end? Well, it depends.
On my hard drive right now, I’ve got six unpublished novels standing witness to my inability to complete a novel to my satisfaction. Yep. True story. (And these NaNo novels aren’t just the 50k required to “win” a NaNo event, but completed first drafts, tens of thousands of words longer than that.)
- NaNo Novel 2013
- Camp NaNo Novel 2013
- NaNo Novel 2012 aka Spurn the Moon
- NaNo Novel 2011
- Pillars of Sand
- Phoenix Reborn (edited too many times to count)
Technically, 5 & 6 were one of my first novels, which topped out at about 200K when I finished the first draft, so I was able to split that into two parts. As a result, I edited Phoenix Reborn so many times that I got sick of it, and realized over and over again that I didn’t like how the story ended, only when I got about 75% of a way through an edit.
So do I have a problem? Perhaps.
My problem is this: I am a slow, deliberate editor.
I don’t want to edit forever–I love writing new pieces, I love participating in NaNoWriMo, and I love new stories.
But I also don’t want to publish a work before it’s edited to be as good as I can make it. And right now, not one of these projects are as good as I can make it.
As I add more words to my current WIP and write through my midpoint, I have to consciously fight the desire to return to the beginning and give a new read-through, to see if there is somewhere I went wrong and where I have given my characters too much freedom.
Why do I fight that urge? Because sometimes getting to the end is worth an extra 10K that I’ll have to cut later, or even an entire subplot. I can’t ever publish this work until I get to the end, and I can’t get to the end unless I shove through this midpoint muddle I’m in.
It’s taking persistence and determination, and sometimes, time and energy I simply don’t have.
But I persist. Because I know that I am a writer, through and through. I’m not only a writer, but a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend… All those things take time and effort away from my writing, but I make time for writing too, because I don’t want to let this story get away from me.