I cleared 40,000 words on my latest WIP.
And yes, this is approximately 66% for me. As a romance writer, I like my works to come in around 70-80k words. I write a very bare bone first draft, so I leave myself space to go back and add in more during revisions. Things like scents and sounds to help the reader feel closer to the action. More description…or description at all.
My beta reader has nailed me for the number of sensory deprivation rooms I have in my early drafts. I’m much better about finding it and correcting it myself now, but that still means more words.
So, why am I celebrating the 66% mark? Am I that desperate for recognition? Maybe a little, but that’s not the point.
Why is the 66% mark important to me? Because at this point, I’ve conquered the dreaded middle.
I’m a pantser when I write. Yes, I’ve tried outlines.
Outlines simply don’t work for me. I’ve given up trying for the moment, and I’ve given myself over to letting the characters show me what’s going to happen.
I know where the story starts. I know how it ends. What I don’t know is the middle. How are they going to get there? It’s this middle part that teaches me a lot about the characters, what deeper internal motivators they have, their hopes, fears, etc.
The beginning, that’s really their face to the world. Their mask. To get them to reveal more, I have to throw some things at them. See how they react.
By the end of the story, well, you know me. There is going to be a happily-ever-after (HEA). That’s a given.
Sometimes, getting the characters to come clean in the middle is really hard. Either they have a lot to hide, or I am trying to author-plot and not let things evolve on their own. Me not stepping back and giving the characters agency is usually the issue, but sometimes the obstacles I throw at them are not significant to get them to come clean on their real internal struggles.
Does this mean a lot of revision later? You betcha.
Now that you know the characters better, you have to push all you’ve learned back to the beginning of the story. Let who they are peek around the corners of who they want you to believe they are. It requires changes to the beginning, and as I rewrite and delve deeper, it frequently requires a change in the ending as well. And lots more tinkering throughout.
But that’s revision. That’s later. Right now, it’s all about getting the electrons on the screen in a pattern that resembles words. Most of which will change later.
But if I can get through the middle, I have a really good shot of finishing the book. The end usually writes faster than any other part as we barrel towards the climactic resolution and our happily-ever-after.
Of course, I will probably have to rewrite the ending. The one novel I’ve polished and am querying had four different endings before I was happy.
Still, here’s hoping I can get that last 20,000 words and have another first draft waiting to be revised.