I’ve struggled this last week to make any real progress on the sequel to Fallen Warriors. At last count I was at 23,892 words.
I have a beginning and the start of an ending, but have found myself bogged down in what writers technically know as “The Messy Middle”.
I had the same problem with the first novel. Too many characters and an uncertainty of how best to bring them together. I had a look at how many characters I’m planning to work with during the sequel. Eighteen! Eighteen characters for whom I want some sort of character journey, some interaction with other characters.
You know that mathematical issue where you increase the number of participants and get an exponential growth in terms of interactions? I think that is part of the problem. There is a reason why writers who are starting out are advised to stick to simple plots.
Anyway, there is a simple solution to the interaction growth issue and the messy middle problem. Technically this is known as “Bum In Seat”.
In theory all I, or any writer facing a similar problem, needs to do is place bum in seat and keep writing. Gradually the problem is resolved, one scene at a time.
It’s a solution that can be adapted to many issues and problems. One’s bum does not have to be in a seat – it can be standing at a workshop bench, or running another mile. Sonetimes the only way to resolve a problem is to keep working towards resolving it, no matter how messy the middle may be.