MUDDLING THROUGH THE MIDDLE
Stuck in the maze between beginning and ending?
Your idea for a story is brilliant. Original. You begin your novel, excited about the project, then it happens—you get mired in the middle. Sound familiar?
That’s where I am in my third novel, going down in quicksand with no save in sight! Recently I read some great advice: when stuck in the middle of your novel, go ahead and work on the end. Okay . . . Did that. The middle remains an endless sea of ideas, twists, and surprises for the reader. I feel like I’m going in circles. What to do now?
I look to my shelf of how-to books on writing and basket of Writer’s Digest magazines, all screaming advice. Some of the best suggestions:
1. Go back to the beginning and work on your characters’ evolution.
2. Plan conflict resolution for your main characters. And for the crime, if writing a mystery, thriller or suspense novel.
3. Go over all of your clues (or subplots) and make sure they are all relevant. Add any that are needed, keeping them as subtle as possible.
4. Work toward tying up loose ends. Start with one and move on from there.
5. Have the end planned? Work on it a bit, then go back and see if it inspired you to work toward it!
6. When all else fails, do something! Edit what you’ve written or develop an outline for your book. Outlining is a tedious task, but will have the effect of bringing it all together in your mind and encourage you to keep moving.
7. Plan your final action scene. As a reader, I like them to be neither too short or too long. A dragged out climax will send your reader rushing to the end. Also, one of my least favorite endings is when the killer (usually at gunpoint one way or the other) tells the protagonist every detail of his/her crimes. Boring. Find a more creative way to wrap things up.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. Putting them together has me eager to go back to my writing! I’m getting over a lingering case of the flu and need to get my physical and my writerly mojos back!
Thank you for stopping in and for all your wonderful comments. If you have any other ideas for tackling the middle, please share with us.
Have a wonderful weekend,