Friday Morning Pages: The One-Third Point

No matter how experienced you are at writing, every novel suffers the one-third point problem. That is, you write one-third or so of the novel, and then all the energy and momentum disappears. You get stuck. You don’t know what to write next. This is normal.

Within the first third of the novel, you’ve introduced all the major characters and given them something to do—a quest, a journey, a big evil to defeat. The characters now have voices of their own, they seemingly make their own decisions, and everything is going better than planned.

But now you have the vast wasteland of the next two-thirds to write. And the writing never seems to end, no matter how many words you tack on each day.

This is not writer’s block.

You don’t have time for writer’s block. Besides, you can write any time you want. If you don’t believe, pick a word out of the dictionary and use it in a sentence. Then use that sentence to write a paragraph. See? You just wrote something. Now write another sentence.

I don’t know what causes the one-third point problem, but I have some solutions.

  1. Set a timer for a half-hour. You can’t check email during that time. You can’t text, or play on social media. You have to write for the half-hour. If you don’t have thirty minutes, set the timer for ten. Keep repeating these timed sessions until you’ve finished the book.
  2. Rethink your story. If you work with an outline, and you’ve gone off the path (which typically happens), then toss out the outline you slaved over during October. Rewrite your outline from a fresh angle. And then go write. Repeat this method as many times as necessary.
  3. Find inspiration in a random story generator. Or find a challenge on the Nano forums. Just be careful not to spend all your time online. Reading and chatting on the Nano forums is a huge time sink, and will take you away from writing. Find a challenge or a prompt, and then shut off your Wi-Fi.
  4. Have fun. Give yourself permission to just let go, and go play. Writing a novel is a huge intellectual puzzle that only you can solve for yourself. So treat it like any other puzzle, and play.

The real key to getting beyond the middle section of a novel is deceptively simple: Write the next sentence. And then write another. And another. Keep writing sentences until the end.

They don’t have to be perfect. Nothing is perfect. The sentences don’t even have to be good. They have to be written, though.

Good luck. Have fun writing the next sentence!


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By David Anthony Brown

Indie writer and publisher. Among other jack-of-all-trade skills...

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