I’m stuck in the middle of my next novel. Actually, this particular one swept down on me in the middle of my last next novel, which I put on hold to write this one.
Sure, I was unusually busy last week, so just thought how much I should have been working on my WIP v.s. doing all those busy, necessary things. Today, I have no excuse (except to procrastinate a bit longer by posting a new blog post). But, stuck as I am in writing beyond chapter eleven, I couldn’t figure out what was my real hold up. I knew the plot arch; I knew the conflicts; I’d written the last two chapters, so knew the ending; I wasn’t feeling like it was the saggy middle, just the saggy author.
I’ve discovered that part of the problem of being a writer is also that you sometimes must stop and psychoanalyze yourself before moving on. So I thought and thought about it and finally discovered what my problem was: I hadn’t named all my characters.
In THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED, I wrote the teacher’s name as “Miss ABC” until about halfway through the novel when I gave her a real name. Now I’m halfway through this present tale and I realized that I haven’t named several of my secondary characters. For instance, I’ve been calling one of them BARREL, picturing him in my mind as a roundish guy. However, he’s with the protagonist from chapter three until the end of the book.
What I’ve come to realize what is happening with this present writers block is that my characters are rebelling on me. “Give us our names!” they shout inside my head. (Now, how is a writer supposed to write anything at all when there’s all that shouting going on? Please!) So today, instead of plunging ahead with another chapter, I’m going to have some sit-down dialogue time with my mutinying, sea-faring characters. I won’t interview them. They’re too rough and tough to tolerate that. Oh! I know! I’ll get them drunk at some port tavern and let them spill their guts and life stories out to me and see if I believe any of them. (And, yes, this is a children’s book, but the adults are, well, adults; and no, they don’t get drunk in the story.)
Like with a Native American naming ceremony, I’ve got to get t0 know my distinct characters better before I can name them. And my story won’t move on until I do name them. So please excuse me while I go belly up to the bar with my secondary characters. (hick)