I have reached 45,523 words in my WIP, CRY WOLF, and am starting on the 31st chapter. This is generally the point in a manuscript when I tend to give up but I am determined to see this one through. I find something compelling about doing it in an episodic format that makes me want to stick with it; it’s like writing a string of interconnected short stories.
Although I have again slacked on self care, I have written every day this week again except for Friday. I got stuck and I realized I needed to figure out the bones of the middle of the story even though I knew who the killer was and what the end would be. That could always change. On Friday I made a, gasp, outline. I realized I didn’t want to introduce the killer too late, or have a predictable mystery. I have reached the point in the story where I need to deal with the murder mystery subplot and introduce the suspects. Until now it’s been hovering in the background as the romance has taken precedence.
Previously, I was scared of outlines, finding them too constraining. I like the thrill and adrenaline rush of discovering the story as you go. But I also don’t want more continuity issues, and I needed to figure out if the story had legs for a longer book.
Some scenes I come up with organically are worth keeping, though; I do not have to follow my outline exactly. And I realized there are many different types of outlines you can do. You don’t have to prepare a detailed spreadsheet with your characters’ backstories down to their mother’s maiden name and their favorite way to cook an egg. What I did is I started a process notebook in a spiral college-ruled notebook, and I wrote out each chapter and what the total word count would be after each chapter. Then I summarized the chapter to make sure I could build the plot into my desired ultimate word count. The goal is 90,000, but if it needs to be shorter, then it needs to be shorter. The story is driving it. Since I’m indie publishing it, I don’t need to worry about arbitrary industry standards for word counts.
Trick here is not getting too predictable, nor getting too melodramatic. This is not Magnum PI. Building a mystery is like fitting pieces of a puzzle together. I feel a bit intimidated by it but I’m also excited by the challenge.
I also realized that at this point in the book I basically have to write another 40,000-50,000 words to finish this manuscript. So it’s like I’m starting a second book with a new inciting incident, raising the stakes and adding more conflict. That has helped me attack the midpoint with fresh eyes.
My goals for the week are to keep writing every day; by the end of this week I think I’ll be able to easily reach 50,000 words. And to work on self care again. No more rice and cheese for lunch and I need to start exercising again. Swimming or yoga in the mornings, running at lunch, hiking on the weekends. At least I have proved to myself that I can write every day no matter my mood or stressors, if I am excited about the story.