Sprint to the Finish

by wjw on March 15, 2008

I just finished writing the sprawling middle bit of This is Not a Game, the current novel.

The middle bits are always the problem. When I start a book I always know the beginning, and I always know the end. Getting from one to the other is sometimes easy, and sometimes it’s like getting from the British side of the Somme to the German side of the Somme in April of 1916. Intact. Without a tank. With your 80 pounds of gear. And all your friends.

I generally know many of the “beats” in the middle part, but somehow it doesn’t seem to help. The plot points keep accumulating in that aggravating way they do.

That’s the problem with writing character-driven fiction. You keep finding new ways and new places to illuminate character. Sometimes I wish I was just a hardware guy. “Build your zap gun. Then zap. The end.”

This is Not a Game has been fun to write despite the inevitable mid-book sprawl. Another piece of good news is that the narrative has sprawled, as it were, in the direction of the climax. The more stuff I deal with in the middle, the shorter the finish will be. I only have two chapters left to go.

My deadline is April Fool’s Day. Can I finish my two chapters in time?

Any bets? Either way?

tcastleb March 15, 2008 at 3:27 am

ummm, I bet you a drink at WorldCon you can?

Dave Bishop March 15, 2008 at 11:35 am

All I can think is, at least one more WJW book in the pipeline and I haven’t even got my hands on ‘Implied Spaces’ yet!

I’ve read enough of your work to know that you’ll sort out the details, Walter, and I’ll enjoy the results in due course. Keep ’em coming!

cstross March 15, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Good luck with it!

(I feel your pain.)

Just try to remember Rule #1: you don’t get to finish the book if you die first, so Don’t Die, okay? It is all right to take some time off if you feel tired or stressed (says the guy who just put in ten consecutive working days).

Thai McGreivy March 16, 2008 at 2:08 pm

I am betting you will (have faith in you).

I have a question: do deadlines help or hurt your creativity?

dubjay March 16, 2008 at 7:37 pm

I usually give myself generous deadlines, so there’s usually not a lot of pressure.

Not so this time, however, as there’s a lot of heavy promotion that starts only if I deliver by deadline.

I’m not planning on dying anytime soon, Charlie, but then who does? What I’m more worried about is getting sick.

And Traci— yeah, I’ll take that bet.

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