If Walls Could Talk: Writing Breakdown

M.H. Norris

I’m going to take a different stance on some pretty traditional writing advice. Last week, I finally managed to hit the half-way point on “Midnight”~my story in All the Petty Myths~and then found myself staring at the second half of the story as if it were a deep abyss and there was no end in sight.

And I’ll admit that it threw me for a loop. James and I have discussed an ideal word count for Midnight and I’ve often wondered if I’ll be able to meet it.

While half-way was an accomplishment the other half feels a bit overwhelming. This is where doubts can really set in. I have a whole half a story to wrap up clues, introduce and dismiss suspects, write a climax, and resolve it.

A couple of days ago, I think I finally started to figure out how to make this second half seem a little less overwhelming. I broke it into pieces.

Word counts and word goals are two popular terms throughout any writing advice book. And events like NaNoWriMo push the daily 1667 word count goal. And I guess that’s part of the appeal of it. 50,000 words seem like a lot but if you break it down to under 2000 a day that’s a little more manageable. Still a lot, but it seems easier than staring 50k in the face.

So here’s how I’m going to approach Midnight. The next quarter of the book is going to give me the space to lay down the rest of my ground work and close some threads early. Then, in the last quarter, we’ll hit the climax and resolution.

To me, dividing the half in half makes the whole thing seem more manageable. Instead of a half, it’s divided into a quarter. Now, I can take a look at my notes and see what all I wanted to cover before the climax and figure out how it fits in between here and there.

From there, I’m leaving myself room for my climax and the fun resolution I have in mind.

Word counts are something I struggle with. I find it hard to make my word count goals and often find myself going under the goal. Which is something I’m trying to prevent with Midnight.

I’m hoping this plan works and that by creating a rough map of this half of the story, maybe I can finally finish this story.

And to answer the question I know is brewing in the minds of those who have followed my posts for a bit, I still do hate outlines. And while I say that, I kinda have to admit that what I’ve spent this post talking about sounds like an outline. I think I’m going to use the term breakdown just to make myself feel better about it.

Or, I’ll admit that I’m using an outline of sorts and, maybe this time around, I’m trying to keep an open mind about it.

But, if you’re like me and what’s left of your story is making you a bit nervous, trying breaking it down into sections. Maybe not even scenes (now we really are venturing into outline territory).

I’m going to give it a try and I guess we will all see how it goes. Over the weekend, I got some validation for Midnight and the concept and I’m excited to see what everyone else thinks about it.

By the way, thanks to Robert E. Wronski Jr and the Television Crossover Universe Podcast gang for a fun interview. Can’t wait for you guys to hear it. It comes out next Tuesday. 

Happy Writing