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The Middle Challenges – Darby Rae

The Middle Challenges

In the last two weeks I’ve blogged about my biggest challenge writing Merciful Law (writing the beginning chapter–posted on April 19th) and my second biggest challenge (writing the last chapter– posted April 26th).  Admitting in this blog that there were several challenges writing the middle/body of Merciful Law makes me feel like a tennis player who admits her top three challenges with tennis are her forehand, her backhand and her serve. 

However, in the spirit of ‘misery loves company,’ I’ve asked other authors what challenged/challenges them in writing the middle/body of their stories.  And the number one problem is…length of our manuscripts…and by that I mean too lengthy.  Case in point, the original manuscript for Merciful Law had over 800 pages.  I obviously didn’t keep my eye on word count/page count and I didn’t account for the difference in formatting (word doc verses book layout). 

While too much content is overwhelmingly at the top of the list, other issues I share with fellow writers are remembering physical details of characters and keeping track of the particulars regarding minor characters.  For example, in Merciful Law, Deborah had two sisters.  They were mentioned by name once in the first part of the story.  Later when I needed to refer to them by name again, I couldn’t remember their names.

My lessons learned were:

-Have a target word count or page count.

-Create a basic outline of what events have to happen before the story ends.

-Keep a log with character information including:

·         First and last name

·         Physical description

·         List of relatives

·         Page number the character was introduced

·         Other information—character’s age (even if it isn’t mentioned in the story), personality quirks, interests, hobbies, nervous habits, basic temperament…

I have promised my agent and editing team that Killer Coordinates (the novel I am currently writing) will be infinitely easier and quicker to edit than Merciful Law.  A promise I can easily fulfill by reminding myself while I write—less is more.

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