Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Muddy Middle

At the outset of a new project, I somehow convince myself that I am the greatest, most clever person on earth. Such delusions of grandeur are not unusual for writers, really.

I tend to write my stories backward. I almost always see the final few scenes in my mind's eye first. I then have to backtrack to figure out who these people are, how did they get to this point, what makes them cetera. I then start to write the opening scenes. My characters are clear, their motivations easy to understand, the plot goes along bit by bit. Until...

The Muddy Middle. Ugh! Now comes the part that I see as least fun. I have to figure out how to get my characters from here to there in a way that makes sense and is true to their stories. Sometimes my characters cooperate. Most of the time, however, they do not. Have you ever tried to reason with a two year old? It is difficult. Reasoning with a fictional character that wants to take your story in a direction you had not planned is nearly as frustrating. I say this because my characters come alive for me. One of the most flattering pieces of feedback that I have received from my debut novel, A Secret and a Kiss, was that each of my characters felt like whole people. They were not cookie cutter and the reader knew enough about them that their actions made sense. Just as the people in my real life don't always do what I want, neither do my characters. This complicates "The Muddy Middle."

I'm working on the second installment of the Western Dreams series. This story is about Warner Ellis, the eldest brother, who meets his match with Rachel Waters. He's stoic and serious and not at all sure he wants to tempt fate by getting too close to Rachel. She's feisty and hotheaded, but is trying to be good. I wonder how that's going to work itself out...hmmm. I'm planning a little twist at the end that promises to be dramatic and exciting. I'm also hoping to have my first draft done by November 1 so that I can start to work on the third book for NaNoWriMo, while also avoiding the second novel slump (you know, sequels rarely live up to the first story in a series). Pressure, pressure, pressure.

Either way, I'm still having fun with it. Now excuse me, please, while I get back to work...