Writing the middle part of a novel sucks

On 1st February I wrote “I’m at the 50k mark at the moment and am struggling to get through the clunky middle part of the novel.”

It is now the evening of 14th February and I’m at 61,000 words. So 11k words in around 14 days. I’ve slowed my pace slightly this week. I’ve really struggled. The middle part of the novel is by far the hardest. When we start to write we have an initial idea, and we usually have an idea of how the story will end. But the messy journey of how to get there is the hard bit. I map out my plot with post it notes but I’ve had to change them so many times whilst writing this middle section.

I reckon I have another 10k words left and then I’ll be writing the main climax of my novel. I’ve already written my epilogue and the last few chapters, I just have the main action scenes left and the lead up to it. There’s one point I’m really struggling with at the moment. I need to spend some time figuring out how to fix the plot.

My course with the Faber Academy has been going well. The course has new topics every 2 weeks. So far we’ve all introduced our books and have done work on openings. Openings are so hard. I’ve changed mine so many times, and I also keep changing my mind about whether or not I want to include a prologue. I asked people on Twitter and the general answer was that prologues were fine as long as there was a good enough reason for them.

Because now is potentially the most free time I’ll ever have, I’m also doing another course alongside the Faber Academy one. I’m currently enrolled on the 6 week Curtis Brown Creative Writing a Psychological Thriller with Erin Kelly. Yes, I did question myself when I decided to do two courses at once. But the CBC course only lasts 6 weeks and after all, I have the time which I’ll never have again. The CBC course has been really good so far as it’s so specific to the genre I’m writing. They also have fantastic resources. I definitely recommend.

I’ll check back in again soon. I’m thinking of making a list of my favourite author blogs to follow. Some are so generous with the information and help they give out.

Hopefully the next time I write here, I’ll have almost finished my first draft! (I’m already getting excited to edit).


My Writing Routine

My current writing place

I love reading routines of writers. It’s so interesting how differently writers write. On the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course we all has to describe the place we write. Mine is pictured above. It’s a small foldable desk in the bedroom of my flat in central London. On the walls I have post stick notes of all my chapters which I stare at constantly, especially as I do my day job from this desk due to the pandemic.

I try and write almost every day. On weekdays, I will try and write 1,000 words after work. I usually do this between 9pm and 10pm. Sometimes I don’t quite manage 1,000 but I try and make those days few. I try not to write much longer than an hour so I still have some of my evening to watch TV or read.

I’ve planned out my chapters so this helps. Sometimes I still get writers block or find some chapters much harder to write than others. I’m at the 50k mark at the moment and am struggling to get through the clunky middle part of the novel. I can’t wait until I’ve finished the first draft so I can edit and redraft. I change the structure constantly. Some chapters don’t work and sometimes I realise I need something more. Sometimes I think of new plot points I hadn’t considered.

On a weekend I try and write 2k words a day. It’s easy at the moment as we can’t make plans due the pandemic. I’ll stick a writing podcast on or some music and just write.

So far, writing little and often is working. Since I started doing this at the start of January 2021, I’ve written 30,000 words. If I keep going at the same pace I should have a 90, 000 word novel by mid March. That excites me.

I still have a long way to go. Lots of editing and I’m sure the structure will change. My goal is to have my novel is a shape ready to query agents by the end of summer 2021. That’s the same time as my Faber Academy course finishes. Fingers crossed.


1/3 of the way through…

In November, I posted this:

“If I am successful, the course doesn’t start until 20th January, so I’ll have almost two months between the courses. In an ideal world, I’d like to have gotten to 20k words before the course starts, but we shall see…”

Firstly, as you’ll see from the end of the last post, I was successful. I will be starting the Faber Academy Writing a Novel Course (online) on Wednesday. I am so excited to be doing another one of their courses. It’s so nice being surrounded by other writers in the same position. The critiquing we do on each other’s work on these courses is invaluable. I can’t wait to further progress my novel with a new cohort of students and learn from some brilliant tutors. I chose the online version as I need a bit more flexibility despite living in central London.

Secondly, I said I’d like to have gotten to 20k words before the course started. As of yesterday, I have over 30, 000 words. I have really amped up my writing since the new year. I started the new year with 16k and have almost doubled that in the space of 17 days. Lockdown helps. There aren’t many distractions and I have nothing to do at the weekend. I’m writing little and often, most nights for 30mins – an hour after work. That is what is making the biggest difference to my word count. By spending an hour of my time after work writing instead of on Netflix, I’m adding 2-3k words a week just though this.

I have set out a timetable for my novel. I hope to have finished my first draft by the end of March. Assuming my total novel will be around 90k words (the average for the thriller genre), I will need to write 6k words a week. This is ambitious but I am determined to finish my novel this year. By finish, I mean in final draft form and ready to submit to agents.

I’m feeling good about my progress so far and have found witting is really helping to keep my spirits up during these hard times. I’ve also been reading a lot more and have discovered some wonderful books.

I’ll update this blog again once my course has started! My current goal is to reach 42k by the 1st February. Watch this space…


Faber Academy Kickstart your Novel – Course Review

It’s been a while since I posted on the blog! I had about a month away from writing after finishing my course to think about next steps. I’m now back to focusing on my writing and my novel.

I finished the Kickstart your Novel course in November and thought I would post a review up on here. I think it’s a fairly new course (my cohort was the second lot) and as it’s all done online it’s great for these pandemic times we are living in.

The course is meant as a precursor to the well-known 8 month long Writing a Novel course. Originally I applied for the Writing a Novel course but was unsuccessful. The tutors recommended that I take Kickstart your Novel instead (which is not selective) to work on my novel idea.

I found the course fantastic. It was 8 weeks long but I felt I progressed so much. The people on the course were all at different stages. Some had ideas and some had started writing their novel. I would say everybody that came to the session had an initial idea. I don’t think it’s necessary to already have a novel idea but it will make the exercises easier and you will benefit more from having other people comment on your work.

The course covered the basics of writing and also included a session on writing a synopsis with tutor feedback (which I found invaluable). It does involve 5-7 hours a week of work but this can be more or less depending on how long the writing takes you.

After finishing the course, I applied for the Writing a Novel course and am pleased to say I got a place. I definitely think my novel is in a much better place now and I will benefit from the course more. I start at the end of January and can’t wait!

I hope my review was helpful and if anybody is thinking about doing the course feel free to comment or message me on my Instagram @rhiwritesabook. I would encourage people to go for this course if they don’t quite feel ready for the longer commitment. These courses are a lot of work alongside a full-time job – it’s better to gauge how you would cope with the work with a shorter course rather than being tied to 8 months.