Getting stuck and unstuck in the center of writing.
I tend to have trouble with middles and I think this is common. Normally I am a “pants” writer, someone who discovers the story, the characters, the whole package, as they write. This has typically ended with me getting bored about halfway through and abandoning the project. In the darker moments, I suspected that I was never going to take writing seriously and that it would always be something I played at. I didn’t have the “stamina” to make it through a whole story. I just wasn’t good enough.
Then, after listening to countless podcasts, watching videos, reading blogs of other writers, I realized that I can combine the best of both worlds. The moment I start to feel the enthusiasm wane while discovery writing, I could stop an outline the rest of the story. I expected this to help me through the fear I have about outlining in general: that telling myself the story in an outline would be satisfying enough that I wouldn’t go on to drafting. That is still a fear and I am teetering on the edge of that being a possibility now.
With The Shape of Us, I wanted to experiment with telling a story from an outside point of view. The game from the NPC perspective, as it were. After the first three episodes, I quickly realized that I needed to outline a full story for Sykes and Baron, a true plot in the background that my POV characters were getting a glimpse of. It then became an exercise to see how much of that plot should bleed through to make it relevant to the POV character’s life at that moment, but also allow the reader to piece together the background story. So I plotted out a 14-episode “season” for The Shape of Us and right now we’re at the half-way point.
I didn’t post on Friday because I didn’t write episode 8. I could give a number of excuses, but I wasn’t ready. I felt that having a space at the mid-point would seem intentional (it was not) and comfortable (it was definitely not). Also, not many people are reading this right now, so the insecure part of me thought “who would miss it anyway?”
I did. I missed it. I fell in love with these characters the moment I finished episode 1 and I am determined to give readers glimpses into their lives, one unwilling bystander at a time. Whatever behind-the-scenes method I use for writing these episodes, in the end it won’t matter. What matters is if I’m satisfied with how the story plays out. So far, so good.
The next seven episodes start posting tomorrow. I hope you enjoy them.