What’s the hardest part of writing a novel? In A New Chapter in Our Lives, YA author May Vanderbilt posts about how she struggles with a book’s beginning. In contrast, I love beginning. The project feels fresh and new. It’s fun to work and rework the first few chapters, discovering people and places that inhabit the world of your story.

Middles are tougher. The adrenaline surge fizzles, and the end is nothing but a vague promise. Tough questions surface. Do I really know these characters? Will readers get what moves them? Poking at soft, saggy places in the story, I have to remind myself that this is just my crappy first draft. I feel like I’m teetering on a narrow ledge between the need to just finish the dang thing and the need to analyze everything I’ve written so far.

Because they’re so satisfying, I find myself sprinting toward endings. Pacing is one of those many areas where it’s crucial to get the perspective of another reader. Truth be told, none of it’s easy. Even at the end, the very end, when the manuscript leaves your hands and moves into print, you feel an unease not unlike waking up as we did yesterday, the morning after a big election. It’s over. Now what?

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