The Newbie Writer’s Podcast
Episode 59 – Stuck In The Middle With NaNoWriMo
Nov. 16/17 the middle of National Novel Writing Month, How are things in the middle? We can discuss how to work through the middle of a project, what to do, how to stay inspired.
Here are some suggestions from NaNo Writers on writing and on craft:
Don’t abruptly throw your reader out on the street.
I was discussing the books of a very popular writer with another NaNoWriMo writer who had just read the most recent publication. My friend complained that some of the most simple continuity in the book failed. (And this is an author that attracts massive advances and has a phalanx of editors). The sin is not the inconsistency itself, in this book the heroine runs out of butter in one paragraph, makes a big deal about not having any butter, then uses copious amounts of butter on the very next page. As readers, we were not really concerned that the butter in question seemed to magically appear in the refrigerator, although that would be handy in real life, our complaint was that such a careless oversight succeeded in wrenching the reader (my friend) out of the literary fictional world and out on the cold street, now conscious she was holding a book of paper or electronic bits exclaiming, I thought she was OUT of butter!
That’s the sin, that’s why you, as an author have a responsibility to maintain your contract with the reader. They promise to suspend disbelief and you promise to not suddenly jerk them back to reality before they are ready.
Give readers a fully functional fictional world and they will be loyal for your lifetime and beyond.
Jerk around with them, and you will lose the whole game.
Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo reminds us that the middle of any endeavor is called the Long, dark night of the soul for a reason.
“Every Hollywood movie has one because we love seeing our protagonists pummeled for a while before they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and head out to kick some ass.”
So what is your middle? Do you need to change it up? Is the heroine boring? Is she given to spouting clichés? Did she bat her eyes at the hero and then faint dead in his arms?
That’s what I thought
Maybe your heroine needs a hobby. Like lighting things on fire. Or running away from home. Or getting herself kidnapped by aliens. Any kind of Alien will do.
The point is, sometimes when you struggle in the middle that resembles creativity quicksand, your job is to stop struggling and look around for a low hanging branch.
Consider it this way, Snow White was in the middle of the forest when she encountered the dwarves. Belle was in the middle of the castle when she encountered the beast. The Titanic was sailing in the middle of the ocean when it hit the iceberg.
The middle is soft, squishing, and some consider it the best part.
And sometimes you bite in the see’s candy and see that the middle is not your favorite.
So toss it and reach for a new flavor. Throw in something new and get on with the novel.
Halfway through is 25,000 words. Which means you have a little more of the middle, then you can write up the end and feature as many flammable aliens as you like.
Even if you aren’t participating in NaNoWriMo, and maybe especially if you aren’t participating, make a list of all the books you want to write. What do you really, really want to do? This is the month to consider what you love, next month we’ll work on a plan to approach your new favorite book.
Word of the week:
This adjective refers to people and things that belong to or inhabit the underworld.
The biggest problem with it, once you’ve worked out how to spell it, is how to say it. American dictionaries suggest that the initial ch should be silent, while most British ones say that it should be said as k, reflecting the Greek source, khthon, earth. No such ambiguity exists with another word from the same source, autochthon, an original inhabitant of any country, who seems to have sprung from the soil; here the ch is said as k.
The classic Greek word referred not to the surface of the ground, which would be gaia, but to what lies underneath. Both gaia and khthon were associated with the supernatural beings that dwelled in these domains, Gaia being the personification of the Earth and the original mother of all beings, while the deities of chthonic realms were Pluto and Persephone.
The English word is comparatively new, from the late nineteenth century. It has flowered as a favourite term of SF and fantasy writers. “Like the rumble of a live volcano it came,” wrote Piers Anthony in his 1985 collection of short stories, Anthonology, “throbbing up from the fundament, pressuring chthonic valves, gathering into an irresistible swell.” One of Charles Stross’s characters was heavily sarcastic with its help in The Jennifer Morgue:
“Really?” asks the woman. “Are you sure it’s all over?” Billington glances at her. “Pretty much, apart from a few little details — mass human sacrifices, invocations of chthonic demigods, Richter-ten earthquakes, harrowing of the Deep Ones, rains of meteors, and the creation of a thousand-year world empire, that sort of thing. Trivial, really.”
The Deep Ones, by the way, are frog-like creatures from the imagined world of H P Lovecroft that’s usually referred to as the Cthulhu Mythos. It’s said that Lovecraft took the name of Cthulhu, his enormous alien god creature, from khthon. Certainly, Lovecraft did a lot to popularise chthonic and it’s through his influence that it remains so popular in SF.
Courtesy of These from http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~pinsky/gallery_1.htm
From Dr. Michael Pinsky
English – University of South Flordia
“To conclude, I don’t believe in a mystery movie or horror movies because both movies are science fiction.” Well, I cannot argue with that logic. Because I cannot understand it.