WIP Update

This is how I was feeling Friday afternoon. I finished it!

Yes, after working for a year, and despite all the obstacles the pandemic hurled at me, I’ve finished the sequel to “A Rose from the Ashes”! A Shadow on the Snow begins three weeks after the end of “A Rose” and climaxes on Good Friday.

Although the manuscript is complete now, some chapters are more polished than others. I usually write five or six chapter by hand. Then I type them. I may go over them a third time before pressing on to the next five or six chapters. So the beginning of my novel is well-polished while the last fifty pages are still in a first draft.

But I find editing and polishing much easier than creating out of my imagination, so I expect this stage of working to go much faster. I polished the first two chapters yesterday, going over them for about the tenth time, and I loved the work. Looking forward to making the rest sparkle!

Facebook Party Invitation!

I wanted to let everyone following my blog that I’m taking part in a Facebook party tonight. All the books featured tonight are Christmas books, and I’ll be discussing “A Rose from the Ashes” and holding a contest for goodies as well as announcing an update about my WIP A Shadow on the Snow. The party starts at 6 p.m. EST. I’ll be on from 8-8:30 p.m. You can make comments until noon EST tomorrow. Hope you can stop by!

The Keys to Writing a Gripping Middle

I’m mostly a plotter. Part of the reason for that is that I have a mentality that thinks ahead, and the other part is that I have kids. I have to maximize my writing time when I get a chance to sit down to it. Having an outline already worked out saves me time.

When I had to write a 5,000 word short story in two weeks, I saved an enormous amount of time when I had a pretty good grasp of my beginning and absolute certainty about my ending. Knowing my start and my destination, I could explore various paths to connect the two.

I thought I’d need a different technique for writing a novel. But I’m finding that a strong beginning and a definite ending are the keys to writing a gripping middle of any story. This technique may not work if you’re a pantser, but if you’re a plotter and having trouble with your middle, try it out.

A stellar beginning sets up a stellar middle.

After typing 60,000 words for the second draft of my YA mystery, I stopped to review the chapters. I edited, looking for ways to tighten my writing. I discovered that my beginning takes about 70 pages. I introduce the mystery–my main character (MC) receives a nasty anonymous note because of her mother’s notorious past– as well as my main characters, suspects, and their relationships to my MC and each other.

Once I had the beginning in good shape, I had a better focus on the middle, deciding which characters were important and which ones I could ditch. I had a better grasp of how to develop the mystery through clues and red herrings and to flesh out the characters and how their behavior could make them appear guilty or innocent.

The middle supports, hints, and/or foreshadows the ending.

How many times have you watched a movie or read a book and found the ending blindside you? A successful ending may seem like it comes out of nowhere, but when I reflect on the story, I can detect the bread crumbs of plot points and character development that lead to the stunning conclusion. The endings that truly blindside me are the ones where the writer didn’t establish enough supports or hints or clues in the middle to create a satisfying ending.

Hero, sneering at villain: You didn’t know I’ve studied underwater basketweaving for the last five years, so you never suspected I could make a trap when I dove underwater.

Sidekick: Wow! I’ve known you for ten years and had no clue.

Neither does anyone in the audience as they groan through this frustrating ending.

If the fact that the little brother of the MC likes to invent things is critical to the ending, then I have to introduce this quirk early and repeat it enough so it seems natural to the character without underlining it. The the reader, hopefully, is surprised but not stunned.

I’d love to learn to read your opinions. Plotters, do you have other keys to writing a gripping middle? Pantsters, I’d love to know how you tackle the middle.

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