Writing the Middle

My first draft of my newest novel project, When the Gods Wish to Punish, sits today at 24,500 words. I am thoroughly entrenched in the middle of the project. I am not near the conclusion, but neither am I just starting out.

I have heard that, for some writers, this is the most difficult part of a novel. That the middle is the stage where it is easiest to lose one’s way, to get bogged down in how to draw the line between this rough mid-point and the end, then eventually throw up one’s hands and declare it hopeless.

I find my experience very different. The early stages of my novels are where some projects kick the bucket. The vast majority that die do so during outlining and planning, or simply never make it past the planning stage, because they are not “together” enough.

In terms of the experience of planning and writing, When the Gods is most reminiscent of my third novel Alterra. Both happened as a sudden flash of inspiration about a theme, and a place, and characters that came together very quickly into an outline, and which I started writing almost immediately. From that point, everything flowed out nearly seamlessly, albeit with a few hiccups where discoveries early on necessitated medium-large changes to the outline. By the time the middle was reached, however, the characters were established, the rest of the movements were clear, and the remaining task was merely to find the most interesting way to depict those events with words.

In terms of themes, I’m quite happy to be doing something new. Both The Other and Intersection Thirteen are, at their core, critiques of modern politics. The Ghost King treads similar ground from a more epic perspective, and part of my hesitancy around that project, as much as I love it, is that it covers ground I’ve covered before. When the Gods is a much more individual-focused story, the conflict not being about societies and grand cataclysms caused by mass human failing, but rather about a small cadre of individuals with their own merits and vices, and about them trying to work through their problems as best they can. In this way, the novel is much more like Schrödinger’s City than anything else I have written. It is much more philosophical than political.

After I finish my first draft of When the Gods, I’ll be turning my attention to Chronicles of Ytria in order to ready it for an early September release.