Accelerating toward the cliff

If you read enough interviews with writers (or better yet, get to talk to them), sooner or later you’ll hear them describe some project where they knew the beginning and the end when they started, but didn’t have much of a middle.  I used to think there was a bit of bullshit to that.  Now I know better.

The first time I wrote a novel, I used an extensive outline.  The damn thing was five pages or more, all of it taped to the wall of my office.  I deviated from it a bit, but only a little.  Of course, later on a much more talented writer would give me a bit of advice so obvious I had to rewrite the whole damn story from page one.  The write that new draft without a net, and it was a fantastic experience.

Now, I tend to write longer pieces without an outline.  I have a list of characters and maybe a few paragraphs, but that’s all.  Most of my plotting takes place in my head, where it stays until I’m ready to write it out.  Writing just feels more exciting that way.

Well, I’m knee-deep in such a situation again, slightly more than halfway through a novel that I know the beginning and ending of, but am a little lost on the middle.  Hell, I’ve had the book’s final scene etched into my brain for six months or more.  When it comes time to type it out, it’ll happen in a mad torrent.  That’s probably four weeks away, though.  Right now, I’m in the middle, and things are getting interesting.

Shit, they’re getting very interesting. 

See, my heroes (who are really bastards, but that’s beside the point) are running toward this point in the story that’s like a cliff.  They’re either going to have to stop before the get there or learn to fly.  Now, I’m not sure what they’re going to do yet.  I better figure it out soon, though, because I only have a day or two before I have to know.  I have to steer these people toward salvation or damnation, and I honestly don’t know which is better.  It’s thrilling, but it’s also a little terrifying.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Writing is waiting.  Writing is problem solving, decision making.  Writing is a whole lot of things, and sometimes it’s the most fun when it’s a bunch of people accelerating toward a cliff, wondering if they can fly.