We’re here. The midpoint. 31 chapters down. 29 chapters to go. Progress has been good, but the difficulty factor of this WIP has varied wildly in the past month. There are times when the plot barrels ahead, propelled by its own momentum, and others where I actually have to put my feet up and think about where a chapter is going. Can you believe that? Thinking? At my age? That’s just one of the many gripes I have with this story, but as always, let’s start with math.
By The Numbers
Here’s where we stand after two months:
The last 30 days have been good for writing, despite all the distractions of The Great British Baking Show, Creeper World 4, and the daily attempts to overthrow the election. I was especially happy to finish Chapter 30, since it meant I was halfway done with the book. The total word count is ~8,000 ahead of plan, which means I’m not struggling to fill 2,000 words per chapter. That gives me a lot to work with during the next rewrite.
That puts progress at:
- Chapters: 31 of 60 (52%)
- Words: 70,638 of 120,000 (59%)
- Showers Taken: 9 of 60 (15%)
Regarding Showers Taken: I’m worried you may be under the misapprehension that this stat is somehow “made up” or “not real” or “bullshit.” I assure you, it is not. In fact, I am adding as many shower scenes as I possibly can. Why? That’s easy. FOR SPITE. See also: You Can Have My Threesome When You Pry it From My Cold Dead Hands.
And now my gripes.
multiple characters, single location
I didn’t know bottle episodes had a name until Abed mentioned it on Community. That’s exactly what this story is turning into–a bottle episode. Or a bottle novel. Bottle something.
I kinda knew what I was getting myself into when I set this story in a house, though I had no idea how crowded it would get with all the characters and plot points and dialogue tags. Writing Multi-POV is easy when the characters are all in separate locations doing unrelated things, but put them all in the same room and yikes…
The question I find myself asking most these days is how do I get this character out of the room? As the action intensifies, it’s getting harder to find excuses. I suppose one character could suggest they split up to cover more ground, but who in their right mind would agree to such a thing?
Both Keys at the Same Time
And when I do get a character out of the room, I find myself worried about that clock, the clock in San Dimas, is always running. When the story starts, the breaks between chapters are hours or days: Monday Morning, Monday Night, Tuesday Lunch, Tuesday evening, etc. Here at the midpoint, however, the chapters are back-to-back, and in many cases, happening concurrently.
It’s tough. I have never written as many timelines and notes as I have for this story. I’m sure some of the continuity is off at the moment, but I can always fix that later.
Unfortunately, continuity is one of the harder things to revise and edit your way out of, especially as plot begins to build on plot. I think that’s why things grind to a halt: you try so hard not to introduce an error that will negate everything that comes after it once it’s fixed.
The Back Nine
If the front nine are all about setting up the characters, bringing them out of the normal world, and setting them on a path to their own destruction, then the back nine is about taking those well-established characters to the top of the mountain and throwing them off it. In my zero drafts, characters don’t have a ton of motivation at the start. I like to put them in the situation and just see what happens.
But now the situation is clear, and what happens next has to be rooted in the character’s motivations and desires. That’s a piece of storytelling that I tended to miss in the early days. I was lazy, perhaps, but I was also too inexperienced to see the value in them even having desires, in that they drive decision-making. That means one less decision for me to make. Everything should basically be on autopilot.
I suppose my gripe is that thinking about characters sounds like work, and you know how I feel about mixing work with writing. No way around it, I guess.
Plowing ahead, and the excitement of handing this story over to you is building with every second. Feeling confident. Maybe overconfident.
Oh that’s bad.
If you have any tips for juggling multiple characters in a single scene or how better to keep track of simultaneous timelines, be sure to leave a comment below!