The dreaded 20,000 words

I just recently hit 20,000 words on my novel, and up until that point I was powering along, not able to write fast enough to keep up with my brain. Now, even though I’ve come to the point where I introduce my favourite character, it’s like a wall has slid up and I’ve smacked myself in the face.

It seems like the beginning of the novel has officially closed and I’ve reached that part that everyone despises: the middle. It doesn’t matter that for once I actually plotted out the basic storyline and what I want in each chapter, it still feels like my story has slipped through my fingers and is wandering our of control. It hasn’t departed from the original plotting, but I’m getting the feeling that soon my characters will be sticking a big middle finger up at me and walking straight into writers block territory.

The words are still coming, but they are doing so much more slowly and I have to work at making my characters believable now. And don’t get me started on dialogue! I’ll write some down and then look at it thinking, ‘Who the hell would ever in the entire world, nay, the entire universe say that unless they were a robot?’

I’ve managed to get past my internal editor and am now just moving on. If I don’t like it, too bad, future second draft me can deal with it.

What I would like to know is does anyone else encounter the same problem when they hit ‘the middle’, whether it be 20,000, 5,000 or 200 words? Or does it occur in another stage of writing?