Kristen Nelson has this interesting post up about hitting the middle of your book, and how that is a wall you have to scale. Or a swamp you have to wade through, or whatever metaphor you prefer:
Ms. Cremer said that all writers need to remember this (and I’m going to paraphrase here): when she starts a project, she’s just so in-love with it, she can’t wait to sit down and write it. She’s excited. The words fly onto the page. Every idea, every bit of dialogue she writes is a gem. Then she hits word 20,001. Bam. The wall. And it happens every time. Then she has to force herself to sit down to write each day, none of the scenes come easily, she ends up deleting half the dialogue. In other words, she has to slog through the next 20,000 words until she breaks through to the ending section.
It happens to her with every manuscript she writes. And even more astonishing? Every other author on the panel agreed with her. They had never thought of it that way but it was so true!
Well, I wasn’t there, of course, but I only *almost* agree with these four authors. For me, it’s 40,001, because my natural length seems to be (sigh) 120,000 words. I’m always trying to shorten, shorten, shorten. It’s true that those chapters I wind up cutting entirely are usually from the middle third of the book, though.
Actually, my experience is that you hit the wall at different points, and get to the top of it at different points, too. If you’re lucky, that slog through the middle actually comprises less than a third of the book. I’ve been lucky like that once, where nearly the whole book was a pleasure to write. And at least once, at least 3/4 of a book was a total slog.
Luckily, I don’t think readers can tell from the outside which book is which. (Want to guess? Which of my books do you think “wrote itself” and which did I have to hammer out of the aether by brute force?)
That’s probably the best reason to make yourself finish a book: just so you know you CAN finish, even when it’s a matter of brute force. Knowing I’ve had a tough slog to get through a manuscript before gives me a quite reassuring conviction that I can do it again, if necessary.
But I’m still hoping that the second BLACK DOG book is the kind that writes itself! I guess I need to think about starting that soon, but hey, gotta have priorities: it’s very important right now to play with my new Kindle.