The Expected Flipped on Its Head

I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo, but I’m not drafting. Instead, I’m adapting it for editing. The last thing I need is to draft more books right now. I’ve also learned my lesson, that I dislike drafting when it’s hot.

Except, it isn’t hot.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Last year, we soared above our normal highs all summer. It was stifling, the air polluted because smoke filled the air. It wasn’t ideal for someone missing 33% of her lung capacity who suffers from a lung disease (Chronic Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis) that reacts poorly to irritants.

Obviously, I adapted and made it through.

This year, I braced for more of the same, but we’ve instead been below our normal highs. Too, I’d swear we’ve had more rain in 2022 than in all the eight years I’ve lived in Montana. I suspect some of the drastic change is linked to the volcanic eruption in Tonga in January. At least, that sounds good.

Okay, but what does that have to do with my targeted editing for Protecting the Pneuma Key? After all, it’s still summer, still warm, still green.

My expectations for my 2022 middle have been flipped on their collective heads.

The most difficult writing aspect for me used to be the middle. Many view story structure as the beginning (0-25%), middle (25-75%), and end (75-100%). That was how I saw it and so suffered the infamous saggy middle.

I still read books that suffer from that very problem. I’ll pass the 33% mark on my Kindle and the story starts dragging as characters ruminate to excess, old scenes are presented in new ways, and there’s a lot of running here and there.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Filler. Things that happen, but have little to do with the plot.

My salvation was learning story structure from Jami Gold (and Deep 3rd POV from Marcy Kennedy).

Jami breaks a draft into beats, placing particular importance on the midpoint and including pinch points to either side of it. For me, it changed everything.

All at once, instead of a dystopian character standing in New York focusing on arriving in San Francisco in time, she realizes there are points along the way that are critical to the journey.

Well, yeah, of course there are.

Thing is, the different perspective was a different mindset when planning. In fact, I doubled down and the midpoint became my superpower, that story-altering moment that became a whirlwind that sucked in the first half of the story and then spit it back out.

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. I don’t scrap all that came before. It’s all still vital. Instead, the midpoint recolors all that came before.

Let’s return to my example.

Your character begins her journey, time running short, her car having more issues than the Titanic, and evil scientists in pursuit. All around are dead bodies, but she picks up a mysterious stranger along the way who helps her at a critical moment.

Enter the first pinch point and the mysterious passenger goes into premature labor. Panicking, your MC takes a wrong turn and becomes lost.

Protecting the Pneuma Key 1

Cover: CA Hawthorne

Bad enough, except at the midpoint all those dead start walking around.

Anyway, something like that. The dead walking change everything (like not becoming a tasty snack each time she stops for gas). Meanwhile, the time crunch remains, as does the pursuit, and those dead sure are sensitive to crying babies.

In Protecting the Pneuma Key there’s the hearing that’s supposed to be a formality and is anything but that. In Trust in the Forgotten, Riparia discovers her destination isn’t what she expected.

That’s why I don’t trust my weather this year. The temperatures have begun to climb, but what will they do next? Meanwhile, the torrential rains have settled into a pattern of rare thunderstorms. What else might the summer have in-store?

If this was a story that what’s next would equal tension. Might it still become hot, high humidity added? That would send my sinuses into a downward spiral (part of the reason I live in the Rockies in the first place). Might the flooding worsen? Might the unexpected happen?

Oh yes, tension, the lifeblood of every story.

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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2 Responses to The Expected Flipped on Its Head

  1. Bridgette says:

    This was very helpful! Thank you.

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