Writing, page 8: Stuck in the middle with you


The middle of the story. It comes to all us writers.

At first, my story is humming right along. I’ve introduced the main character(s) and the supporting cast. I have the Event, the thing that propels my story and gives my hero (female in this example, for the purposes of estrogen domination and because my main character is female) a reason to exist. I even know the ending, or at least a shadow of it.

Yup, things are humming right along. Great. But here comes the middle of the story, chapters 11 or 12 or wherever, when things just kind of . . .

Bog.

Down.

Suddenly, that ending isn’t so clear. Crap, how am I supposed to get my hero to the end? There’s so much–or so little–to write. Should I include more of the supporting cast, or less? Is the story too long? Too short? Should I just wrap things up? Am I dragging my feet? What else can my protagonist do?

Um, wait, what’s the bad guy doing? Can he do that now? Should I make him wait?

The writing books say this is where having your novel outlined on paper helps. Stick to the outline, your map out of the alphabet jungle, and you should be fine.

Pfftt, I say. I’m Indiana-frickin’-Jones. I don’t need no steenkin’ map. You think George Lucas had an outline for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Hell to the nah! When things bogged down, he stuck Indy in a refrigerator and nuked him.

this is a man who made the middle--and logic--his bitch.

I mean, that’s the only explanation for that atrocity, right? That things got slow, so bam! nuke some shit and keep on going, right? Right?

Right?

All right, so tossing the A-bomb at your character may not be the way to go. When the middle of my first book got me, I lengthened some of my werewolf character’s transformation scenes. I had her discover stuff, like that she was really, really strong. It fleshed out the story, but it also gave it some meat. If the middle of your book slows you down, you may want to reevaluate it. See if you can stick in a sub-plot, something that will add to your tale but not slow it down more. It’s a tightrope.

But don’t give up.

And keep your finger off that nuke button.

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2 thoughts on “Writing, page 8: Stuck in the middle with you

Add yours

  1. Never read it. I think I’ll check it out, though. I did read Novelist’s Boot Camp, which helped a little. I think I have the same problem with writing as I do with hiking: easy to start, easy to quit, but not so easy to keep going.

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