Can You Help Me Diagnose a Writing Issue?

I’ll admit, I didn’t outline a thing when it came to my NaNoWriMo novel. Not. A. Bit. Which has been good to me so far – twists and threads and complications have been spontaneously generating like crazy, and what was originally a pretty threadbare plot is getting some serious meat on it.

The problem, though, is that I almost have to pause after each scene/short chapter, or every thousand words or so. I finish one bit, get just a little into the next to set it up (and so I don’t vaporlock when I pick it back up later), and then just… need a break. Usually somewhere between twenty minutes and an hour. I’ll offer advice in the NaNo forums, answer e-mail, watch tv, play a game, just something that isn’t working on the text itself.

It’s been somewhat useful – about half the twists and other plot stuff have shown up during those breaks, the other half while writing. But it’s not “neutral”. I’m having to readjust my schedule because of it – I wasn’t factoring that kind of breaks into my plan for writing time.

What I’m wondering – and this is largely aimed that those of you who have more experience writing novels – if this is more likely an artifact of my not outlining the work or an artifact of me having primarily worked in short fiction before now.

Any guesses? Thoughts? Similar issues?

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  1. November 7, 2012

    Impossible to say without reading work, but it sounds like an issue arising from eing attuned to short fiction. If you are having plot twists and the like every 20 minutes to hour of writing (every 300 to 1000 worxs), you are either too twisty or too rushed in pace imo.

  2. Diane
    November 7, 2012

    In my experience at least, this is a novelist thing. A lot of us, consciously or unconsciously, work in "transaction blocks": a set of characters meet up / come together, deal with one specific issue (or part of an issue), then part company again. The 1000-1200 word subsection size seems to work well for both writer and reader. And the small fallow period between writing one transaction block and writing another is typically a place where good new ideas pop up.

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