Each week, a new author will serve as your Camp Counselor, answering your writing questions. Kat Zhang, our final counselor, is author of the Young Adult series, the Hybrid Chronicles, and is a frequent participant of NaNoWriMo.
How do you keep the middle of the novel from sagging or slowing down? — Anonymous
Generally, part of a novel seems “slow” when the characters aren’t actively trying to reach their goal. The middle of a book tends to suffer from this problem the most. That’s because the beginning of a book naturally involves the characters setting off on their journey toward their goal, and the end of a book typically involves them facing the Big Bad or whatever—the final resolution of their goal.
Sometimes, characters stop “doing stuff” in the middle, and that’s why the pacing flags. I put “doing stuff” in quotes because the characters can’t just be doing anything. If they’re not doing things that actively move them toward their goal, and aren’t involved in some kind of conflict, then we can still have pacing problems. Think about it this way: if your book is about the main character trying to win a horse race, then the beginning is her deciding to enter the race, and the end is her actually racing. But the middle? That’s her training. And too much training can slow the pacing down, especially if it’s pretty repetitive stuff.
This is where a subplot can come in handy. In our previous example, the main plot objective (wanting to win the horse race) is in a bit of a lull conflict-wise because your character may need months of training, and it’s no longer exciting. So, what can act as a storyline that contributes to the larger plot, but adds conflict and excitement to the middle?
A very common subplot to use here is a romantic one. Maybe she falls in love with a guy who uses the same stables, but feels torn because she ought to be spending her time training, not hanging out with him. Now there’s immediate conflict and tension again, and that keeps the pacing up.
Not interested in a romance? Maybe she finds out someone is trying to sabotage her training, and needs to figure out who it is before she or her horse gets seriously injured. Now there’s a mystery subplot. You could have both the romantic and the mystery subplot! But be careful, because too many subplots can get unwieldy, and clutter up your story. It’s all a balancing act.
Remember, you can officially “win” Camp NaNoWriMo’s July session starting July 25. Find out more here.
I was tagged by mmmcoconut for a desktop screenshot. Since I have barely used my laptop in the last month due to moving, I decided to do my phone screenshot instead. I have this print on my bedroom wall and it is ten times more awesome in person. (From spokeart's David Lynch show this past spring!)
I love seeing other people’s screenshots, even if it’s toushindai's weird leather chairs. :D
I’ll have everyone know that my weird leather chairs are gorgeous
since a lot of you were asking.
Beautiful and straight forward. ♡
the sun’s pretty hot… id fuck it
calm down icarus
calm down bazaar
this makes me think of a convo with a friend the other night about seeking validation that harm occurred from the one(s) who harmed you (in this case i was talking about my relationship with my parents, mostly my mother.)
"seeking validation that harm occurred from the one(s) who harmed you."
I still think about this all the time
[9:09:26 PM] CameoAppearance: WHAT THE HELL THERE WAS A LIFEBERG LURKING UNDER CENSOR’S ARCH
IT DIDN’T EVEN ATTACK ME IT JUST WATCHED ME GO BY
Lifebergs are assholes. Why do they only ever show up on the way back from Whither? I swear I’ve never seen one while I’m heading northish but as soon as I turn around it’s like captain-hunting season has opened
i love being at disney world when it rains because the weak will leave and the strong will have five minute wait times