One Question, One Comment

Started by Mister URL, September 21, 2022, 01:24:02 AM

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Mister URL

The Question:

Since I retired, I have written a lot of books (34), mostly fiction, three or four non-fiction and essays. I am finding that in my novels I get tired of the MC after a time and start wanting to have a tree fall on them. This usually happens after about 10,000 words. Is this common? Or am I really a short story writer and writing full-length books is not my forte?

The longest I have done was about 60k words and I split it into two more easily digestible hunks. But most are in the 10k to 14k range. Do you all have this problem? Does it help to shelve it and come back later? Thanks for your consideration.

The Comment:

I have been writing for publication only twenty years, since I retired from the pipelining world. Before that, as part of my work, I wrote (maybe) a million words of technical documents and classroom materials, all of which were non-fiction. Since I retired I have self-published 34 books, in e-book and paperback format, and sold a few. I have been a member of writing forums almost from the first. After I got my feet under me, I seldom asked for or gave advice anymore. Most of those forums have gone into the Great Ether Wasteland, Literary Mary, My Writers Circle, some I cannot even remember. Without being mean, I think I can say that this one is sliding downhill. Few active members, few posts. Maybe people do not read anymore. Or write.

Thank you.
"...Things I learned in a bobo jungle are things they never taught me in a classroom ..."
― NOT Merle Haggard

Jo Bannister

I think it's fairly typical to find the middle part of a book harder to write than either the start or the end.  You begin with the enthusiasm of a new project, when everything's fresh and exciting and you're discovering things about your characters and your story only a couple of steps ahead of your intended readers.  And two-thirds of the way through, you've got the threads running in parallel and the finishing line in sight (and any mixed metaphors sorted out!) and those last few chapters write themselves.  But the middle section is where all the grunt-work needs doing.  You just have to think of it as a job, get your head down and get it done.

Speaking personally, I have found my primary interest in characters shifts from one to another as a book, or a series of books, progresses.  I start writing in order to tell one person's story, only to have one of the lesser characters start to flex his muscles and try to take over.  Sometimes I let him, sometimes I don't; but I think his efforts always benefit the book.

Publishers will tell you that 60,000 words is short for a full-length novel.  75-85,000 is a better length to aim at.

Mister URL

Thanks. I start thinking, 'Hey, if I am getting tired of this character, the reader will surely be doing the same.' But I will try just plowing through that period on this one. There is nothing actually wrong with short stores: The Ransom of Red Chief comes to mind.
"...Things I learned in a bobo jungle are things they never taught me in a classroom ..."
― NOT Merle Haggard


That's great advice, Jo. I guess the answer to keeping up enthusiasm is to just get the damn thing done. :-)
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb