Still closing in on the end of Calamity of So Long a Life, a/k/a Sunspin volume one. A pair of little process data points have made themselves known to me over the past couple of days. I thought I’d share in the spirit of writerly fellowship, and not suffering alone.
1) When writing a trilogy as one single plot arc, in effect one giant 600,000 word book, the muddle in the middle phenomenon can in fact take place at the end of what is functionally the first book. This may be the first time I’ve ever finished drafting a novel (and this is my eighteenth novel written) where I’ve reached the very end with that slightly confused and disappointed feeling. Normally books wrap up for me with a swift downhill haul and Fred, my inner writer mind, shouting “Wheeee!!!!”. This ought to make the second book entertaining, and suggests an epic finish for the third.
2) Per above, my relationship with the outline isn’t what it normally would be. Yesterday I finished a scene where Maduabuchi St. Macaria and Freddie Tavares are about to meet for the first time about halfway through what the outline called for at the end of Calamity. (Having just written not one but two shuttle crashes, gunfire, near-drowning, and bureaucratic snark. How much better can it get?) I realized I need to push the balance of the scene into book two, The Whips and Scorns of Time, so that these two character threads end on an appropriate note of tension and ill-resolution at the end of Calamity. See above re how I normally approach the ending of novels. At the moment I’m having a bad case of outline interruptus, which is sort of like that guilty tingling if you don’t wash your hands after you pee.
This trilogy thing is harder than it looks.
(You do wash your hands after you pee, right?)