Still working on the middle-grade book. About to start Chapter Five! It’s growing less and less likely that I’ll need to restart again. Someday I’d like to go back and summarize all the permutations that the concept has gone through. But not now. I think it’s going well. At least, I can’t spot any clear dealbreakers, but it’s hard to tell. Anyway, I’m about to hit the first act break. Usually, by that point I have a lot more clarity on how well things are going.

Right now I can visualize all the big points, but all the little ‘stuff’ isn’t as clear. Novels are so full of stuff. Just little encounters in off-beat places: a person checking into a motel; a guy finding a flower growing on the edge of a cliff; someone talking to someone they don’t normally talk to. And it’s the stuff that’s actually pretty hard to plan out. The two main periods for stuff are the second half of the first act, which is where you introduce all the minor-side characters–the teachers, the bullies, the cousins, the ice-cream vendors–who will (hopefully) come up again.

And then you introduce more stuff in the first half of the second half, because that’s kind of a lighter and more relaxed time. After the midpoint of the book, everything becomes way more clear: you’re just knocking down pins that you’ve already set up.

But introducing the stuff is an interesting problem, because all the stuff has to come from deep within the internal logic of the story. And that means you need to be in tune with that logic.

I’m not sure that I’m yet in tune in the right way. We will see.

Anyway, the nice thing is that it looks like this might end up being a pretty short one (could be less than 40k words!)

I’ve never written three or four novellas before, but none of them were any good, so I’m excited about this. And since the word count limits are different for middle-grade fiction, 40k words ought to still be a saleable length.