Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
I'm starting to feel the hardest bit of a novel to pull off is the middle. The easiest is the beginning, all new ideas and potential, and then the end is often carried by style and language and emotion, but the middle... One of my friends once took me on a tour of Seattle, and at one part of town, she said, "This is wear the s--t gets done." Well, that's a pretty good description of the middle of a novel, too. Your characters and your plot both have to grow in complexity and interest, and you have to maintain your voice, all without losing whatever pulled the reader in in the first place. It's hard. And I loved the beginning of Mantel's novel Beyond Black, and I liked the end, but in the middle I fizzled. In the middle, the language seemed to flatten out and not much actually happened. And I suppose the danger of a beginning so good is your middle needs to be even better.