How To: Middles

The middle. The point of the story were the story finds its feet.

It’s also the point where the writer of the story can lose their mind.

Middles, I’ve found are always a tough nut to crack. They’re the point where your motivation is beginning to wane, the point where pacing becomes more than just a distant thought, and the point where you end up trying to draw out flowcharts to make sense of all of your loose plot threads.

We’ve all been there, and today, I’m talking about my top three tips for how to write a good middle of a story.

Tip 1 – Accept you will need to edit

Whether you’re on draft 1 or draft 10, unless you’re on your final proof edit of your novel, everything you write will at least need some level of editing.

Now, at times this can be disheartening. All that writing, and yet still more work to make your novel right?

Yeh, it sucks sometimes. However, it does mean that when you’re stuck in the creative trenches, you can know that the words you write in this session don’t have to be the final words for that sequence. In fact, if you’re really stuck on a scene, you can avoid writing any words at all and just leave a placeholder to come back to when you’re feeling more inspired.

Tip 2 – You don’t need to solve all your plot points right now

When writing any novel, especially in the early stages, you will be throwing plot points at the proverbial page in their hundreds. Even if you’re an architect kind of writer, whose got a well thought out outline that you’re working from, there is still likely to be some element of the unknown as you actually sit down to craft your final book.

If you’re finding yourself sitting in the middle of your novel with lots of hanging plot threads, that’s okay. In fact, you don’t need to solve them all as you progress your novel – after all, your edits will likely trim down the plot threads to the key ones to help with the pacing of your final novel.

If you’ve got many plot threads, then you can:

  • Write them all down and identify which ones you want to solve now and solve later
  • Put some placeholders in on key sequences if you’re not fully committed to that plot idea
  • Write it out! Sometimes you need to get words on the page to try out different plot ideas and see which one works!

Tip 3 – give yourself breaks

I’ve spoken before about making sure you pace yourself when you’re writing. This is no more important than when you’re in the middle of your project, far away from the beginning but feeling like you’re not getting any closer to that elusive end.

When you’re struggling with your middle, step away from it. Maybe go write something else (this is where my blog posts tend to get written!), maybe go do another hobby. Maybe doing nothing at all is just what you need.

Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint, and this statement holds particularly true when you’re slogging through the middle of your story.

Alex.J.Cobalt is a fantasy writer from the UK. When she’s not working away at her fantasy novel series, she posts free flash fictions on her website, along with regular blogs about writing.

Photo Credit: fotografierende on Unsplash

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