NaNoWriMo: Slogging Through the Soggy Middle

So if you caught last week's post about falling behind in my word count, you know I was roughly 4,000 words behind on par last Tuesday.  You can see that I had spent some serious time slacking off, being busy, going places. My youngest had a chorus concert on Thursday of last week, and a salute to Veterans on Veterans Day last Sunday. Being a mom certainly and frequently means having to put the needs of the family above the things I would like to do. I get it, scheduling time for ourselves is hard. And especially since I do most of my novel writing at night and after dinner when my creative juices are flowing. In contrast, I find that writing blog posts, and other non-fiction writing is best done during daylight hours and during the day. 

So here is where I stood last Thursday, as you can see, I had put together a couple of good days, managing to get into the green and nearly doubling my word count. I still was not caught up to on par, but at least I was getting into a grove and getting those green blocks filled in on my calendar. In addition, I know that since it is Thanksgiving Vacation all of next week, the question of how much writing I can get done with my kids out of school is a very real thing. In fact, November seems to be one of my squished months of the year. True, fall soccer season has given me a bit more time to write during the weekends. But, my weeknights are more prone to disruption performance season and days out of school ramp up. This is why it's important for me to keep on keeping on to stand a chance to eek out a win over the finish line. 

And this is this morning's graph.As you can see, I've worked hard to get my words in every day. It's the drip, drip drop that keeps the word count up. However, at 21,000+ words we have now hit what many critics call the soggy middle. This is the part of the novel where your story loses steam. I'm writing a mystery and I write my novels from word one to The End in straight order. There will be changes, there will be things that need to be added. In this first draft there are things that are going to go sideways. So I've written the OMG, I've found the body. The cops have arrived, the body reveals what the body reveals, we've met the suspects. And the next really big thing is going to be the Big Reveal  So what we have now and for the next 20,000 or so words are all of the red herrings, the wild goose chases, the tiny clues as to what has actually happened. We can go back to the techies and get answers to the questions. So I know some of things that need to happen, but they aren't as gripping as finding the body and the Big Reveal. 

This isn't a new phenomenon, it happens to a lot of us. We have those moments in the story where the moment is crystal clear. We know that developing out these things is critical to having a good story. But they are not critical to having a good plot. For the difference refer back to my old blog post Story vs Plot. So, now I need to go backwards and explore some things in my victim's life. I need to find out what kind of things she did to make someone angry enough to kill her. That's one route I can go. Another route I can go, is to give my lead detectives some frustrations. It's time to start unraveling some lies, and time to have promising leads go poof. Right now, what's important is to keep going. Each of these little episodes can be factored into the plot, the final version later. To explore things in the victim's life, perhaps a few vignettes would appropriate. A way to give both my reader and my detective a way of understanding what is happening.

Keep going, if you're stuck, upgrade a side kick to a full fledged minor character. Back stab your good guy. Better yet, back stab your bad guy. Kill off a promising character and see how that changes your character. Send all of your characters to the same social event, a coronation, a concert, a taping of a TV episode and see how each of them reacts.

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