A Critical Stage of Writing

      THERE COMES A point where writing a book becomes tricky. Starting is sometimes the difficult part for some, but once a really good idea sticks I find the initial outpouring of ideas into a new story world creates its own momentum blasting into space carrying everything with it. That spell of creativity is the best feeling for me.
Around the half way mark generally writing slows down a little, but the idea usually still has the afterburners on.

And then…

The 70-75% mark of the story is reached! Characters have come to life, the plot is pushing, the story world is realised – a solid house from a flimsy studio set – and the writer is safe in the knowledge that the many redrafts to come can improve the writing and strength of the story.

Why is it at that stage of the story, that writing becomes harder? My theory is that the creativity, the spark of origin has burnt out, and a second set of fuel is needed to push through. It is easy for the plot to become slightly convoluted, for characters to have digressed from their intended origins, and more pronounced is the impending finish line, the key resolution to all the hard work. Is it fear of finishing? Fear of the original idea not reaching a satisfying conclusion to match the original vision? Either way, with the story optimistically three-quarters full, I think there is a commonality linking writers at this stage but perhaps I am wrong.

Maybe I can’t quite figure it out. The critical stage going beyond those first two-thirds is an invisible barrier as the juggling act of plot and characters morph from bowling pins into razor-sharp blades. We don’t want to cut our fingers off even if only metaphorical. Finishing anything is the toughest aspect of many things in life; DIY, sports plays, various projects…breakfast. Not so much in terms of discipline just in terms of that final push. And a near finished story is like a house waiting for the rendering and roof tiles to be fitted, a sad sight until completed, but a writer doesn’t have that same public vulnerability of others judging their incomplete creation.

I was hoping to add something inspirational, some nuggets of wisdom for those in a similar position, but there isn’t anything for it but to keep typing. Pausing to review your story is one of the few things I can offer, even if only a recap of key scenes and characters. As a pantser I knew where I was heading, and still do, but the impetus (along with less than ideal circumstances one way or another) began to slow, so after a short reevaluation I’m ready to go again, having been needlessly hampered by my own creation.

 

lion around 2

17 Comments

  1. I agree with your thoughts. I tend to think that (as you say) the energy from that orinigal creative burst propels to finish our manuscripts. The early drafts can also be bursting with energy. But after that, editing becomes work. Real work, trying to refine and perfect our original creation. And tearing down our baby can;t be fun. Ripping out dialogue we like our a scene we love that is unnecessary. These things hurt us. But we know they need to be done.

    When the fun turns into work…it gets harder.

    1. On that last thought without a doubt. I shouldnt be complaining, as the first draft is as free as possible creatively, so I’m learning to enjoy again it after a rough few days. Then editing ☺😂😠😯😐

  2. monkey hear Man once say that he start feel good about writing after he first start believe it possible it not total piece of crap. after that he write with more enthusiasm & hope.

  3. I find it’s the middle that tends to slow you down, but I usually have my ending set up from the beginning. It’s easy to start because everything is shiny and new, but around the middle you start to realize that you’ve already poured all of your bright ideas into the book and you still have 30,000 words to go before that long-envisioned final act. No matter where it happens, though, the feeling is the same, and the only cure is to work through it. The feeling of accomplishment when you type “The End” is like no other.

    1. Yeah, it’s the walking the plank feeling that is easy to let interfere with the writing. I know the ending as much as I like to know an ending before I begin it’s just a question of beasting through the last third until done, so I can rest up and take a breather before book 3 whatever it may be.

  4. Yep, that’s about my experience. More for me it is the process of rewriting and drafting that beats me. As a pantser myself, I have so much trouble finishing a book, story, it’s depressing. Good to see I’m not alone though. Thanks for sharing, and best of luck finishing!

    1. Thanks amc.
      After the first redrafting, I hold no illusions about the arduous nature of editing now, so in a way it is less painful, but I’ll try and approach it with more enthusiasm when it begins.

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