66% Done

I cleared 40,000 words on my latest WIP.

celebrate

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.

outlining

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.

firstdraft

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.

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8 thoughts on “66% Done

  1. Congratulations! Thanks for this post–it’s so helpful. I’m just starting to write fiction for the first time. I like the speculative/ghost genre and I’ve managed to get two short stories published, but I haven’t done a novel yet. I tried writing a novel this year and I got 80,000 words. The novel I wrote was not in the speculative genre and I got bored after 100 pages. The plot switched direction at least three times and I forgot the names of the characters halfway through, but I just kept writing with new names for characters! It was terrible! But, I needed to do it–just to see if I could. I’m now thinking the “novella” length might be better for my attention span, so I’m trying it now. I’m writing a speculative fiction piece and so far I look forward to working on it each day–just wondering when I’ll get bored again. I’m only about ten pages in and I hope I don’t lose my enthusiasm.

      1. I’m trying it now–just a “seed” idea per chapter–nothing set in stone and nothing too detailed. I find that I’m coming up with ideas as I go, so that’s good. I’m 5,000 words in and still motivated–hope it continues!

  2. Congratulations! I’m a pantster too and like you, I use those small details the characters reveal, plus the constraints imposed by their world, to plot the middle. Yes, sadly plot. If I don’t sit down and work out who knew what, did what, wanted what etc, I’d never get the story straight. But that’s probably a function of my inability to keep everything in my head. Once over the hump of the middle though, the end is usually very pleasant as I pants again.
    The thing I love about writing is that the process doesn’t matter. How we get to the end doesn’t matter. Only the story matters. 🙂

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