Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Archive for the tag “Story arc”

The Pantser’s Antipenultimate Panic #Novel Writing

You would have thought by now I’d have learned the pitfalls that go with being a seat-of-your pants writer. Yes, it’s exciting. Yes, it’s living dangerously. And yes, every time I reach the final third of my novel I come unstuck.

This time it’s worse than usual. Instead of writing at my usual steady pace that sees a first draft completed in six to nine months, I slammed out 50,000 words in one month during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and then only had time to write 6,000 words in December, so I literally lost the plot.

Yesterday, I wrote three pages of dialogue between two people that did little to advance the plot. I may or may not have picked up on some threads earlier in the novel, but mostly I was waffling in the dark.

On reflection, the cause of this waffling is clear: that I can’t remember what I said earlier in the novel, or what clues I laid down. When a writer reaches the stage of to-ing and fro-ing every few sentences via the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl][F], it’s akin to playing yo-yo and hoping the string doesn’t snap.

The moment of reckoning has arrived. I cannot proceed in a southerly direction, when I keep on having to retrace my steps north. If I carry on like that, I will end up tearing out my hair and casting my novel into the trash bin. But I neither want to tear out my hair nor cast my novel in the trash bin, as I’m rather fond of both items.

Thus, my only option is to stop writing and return to “Go”, even if go is situated at the North Pole. This does not involve any kind of rewrite or detailed proofreading, but a straight read through to remind me what I have written in the first two-thirds of my novel. As I’m doing this, I will write a chapter-by-chapter synopsis to save me having to do so at the end.

What am I looking for?

  • Clues
  • Revelations
  • Contradictions
  • Pacing/waffle
  • Direction
  • The story arc

And to end on a positive, what do I love the most about the novel that makes it worth saving?

  • The characters
  • The wry humour
  • The quirkiness
  • The story’s overall premise
  • The setting
  • The novel’s title

See you all when I get back from the North Pole. Only joking 😉

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