Annette wrote yesterday that she hates writing the first chapter. I have the most trouble with the middle chapters.
When I’m in the middle of my manuscript, I spend more time deleting scenes than I do writing them. I’ll be happily pounding away on the keyboard. My protagonist and one of the other characters will be chatting away, having a grand old time, then suddenly I’ll realize that absolutely nothing happened.
That’s not good. Especially if I want someone to actually buy the book someday.
Select. Delete. I could do it in my sleep.
When I hit the middle of the book, I write by the Two Steps Forward, One Step Back method. (Note that it’s not the same as one step forward, two steps back. I’d end up with negative pages in that case.) For every couple of pages I write, I have to trash one.
But doing it that way is easier for me than pounding out the whole draft, getting to what I think is the end, and then figure out six chapters from the middle have to go. All of a sudden I only have two-thirds of a book. As much as I complain and refer to my WIP as THAT F*&$#*G BOOK, it’s the only way I can work.
The other problem I have is my tendency to be too nice to my protagonist. In real life, I hate conflict. Most of the time I go out of my way to avoid it. Well, at least I did until I hit that certain age. Catch me in the midst of my own personal heat wave and all bets are off. (But that could be a whole separate blog post.) Anyway, I always have to go back and make things more difficult. In my last book, I killed off a character who was very close to my protagonist. Let me tell you, it was like a death in the family. I’m not a weepy kind of gal, but I cried like a baby. I keep the c-word—CONFLICT—taped to my laptop as a reminder. I probably say “conflict on every page” in my sleep.
My goal is to have my first draft finished by the end of July. So far, I’m on track. If I make it through the middle, that is.
Most writers seem to have at least one part of their work they struggle with. What are your techniques for muddling through the tough parts of your book? Do you have a hard time making life difficult for your protagonist? Tell us your secrets for pulling it all together!