1. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    Boring Middle !

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by louis1, Mar 21, 2012.

    How do I make a boring middle, not boring?
    Because my story starts of great the ending is great, but the middle is just not good enough.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Details, we need details! What's going on in the middle?

    One possibility, though, is that you don't have enough subplots, or, as another way of looking at it, you may be assuming that the events are what the story is about, when that may not be true. Let's say that the story starts out with someone finding a mysterious coded treasure map, and it ends with them finding the treasure. In the middle, they do a lot of running around and finding code experts and so on.

    But that's really not a story that would interest me, because I don't _really_ care about the treasure. I care about the characters. If the treasure-hunting character is someone that I've gotten to know, someone that I care about, then I may be happy in the end that, yay! they got the treasure. But I have to get to know them, and that's what the middle is for. The story may only use the treasure as a structure to hang other things on - things like the character learning what makes him happy in life, or learning to deal with his dysfunctional family, or, well, something.

    Look at Harry Potter, for example - after the audience is done groaning at that example. When you remember the first Harry Potter book, do you _mainly_ remember the primary plotline and the big secret and overcoming the big secret? Or do you mainly remember Harry and his misery with his aunt and uncle and his joy at finding a place where he belongs and his developing relationship with his friends and his changes as he learns what's important to him? I can't remember the main plotline of that book one bit; the moments that I remember are interpersonal moments. That's what the middle - and, for that matter, the beginning and end - are about.

    ChickenFreak

    Edited to add: Hm. Also, hm. Y'know, above I just gave myself some advice that I could have used years ago. I have a very, very hard time finishing any work of fiction, because I'm never satisfied with the _plot_. But I've just told myself, and I realize that I've always believed, that the plot is not the point. The plot is a clothesline to hang the real story on, no more. If it's a straight line, so be it; that may not be ideal, but it's no reason to stall a perfectly good story.

    Hm.

    I hope I can make use of my own advice.
     
  3. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    details: well, the MC is alone lost in the desert so it's a very psychological moment in the book he's alone thinking, but i feel something needs to happen.
    as for subplots, believe me I have enough ahah, maybe too much, do you think it's okay for the subplots to over take during the middle? cause that's pretty much what's happening the MC is alone thinking, that's okay but i don't want him just thinking and doing nothing else for 6 chapters.
     
  4. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Okay, you have a complex plot (from another post) and a boring middle... If you have six written chapters of him thinking in the desert, you may want to rethink that. Other than that, move on. Of course there are going to be lull's in the action, but like Chicken said, focusing on the characters (to a reason) is an excellent thing... just I have no idea what you would have him thinking about in the desert for 6 chapters. One is enough, more than likely :) If you've done your job, and the reader has become attached to the character, more than likely they will hang on and allow you and themselves to dig deeper into the character. Though, psychological, is he just contemplating? Or angsting? Or, what? Because, that really can mean almost anything internal.

    Also, ChickenFreak, I like that advice because I've stalled out for that reason at the moment.
     
  5. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Contemplation scenes are very slow, so that's why you think it's boring. You need to speed things up by following contemplation scenes with action or dialogue (preferably not sideplots). Your main character should be mulling something over throughout the scene, and at the END of the scene, you are best employing one of these four ideas:

    1) Some action happens to him, e.g. someone pulls a gun on him
    2) He comes to a decision (on whatever he was thinking about). You don't have to tell the reader WHAT he decided, just show that he has finally made up his mind
    3) End with a surprise, similar to #1, but this doesn't have to be action.
    4) End with foreshadowing. If you really can't follow up with action or dialogue in the next scene (that involves him), foreshadow to the reader that action/dialogue is coming within the next few scenes.

    I guess my question is, why must he contemplate for so many scenes in a row? Can't it just be combined into ONE scene, and then move on?
     
  6. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    it can't just be one scene because of the time structure, the MC has to pass a couple day in the desert for the rest of the subplots to ''catch up on him'' I know he shouldn't be contemplating for 6 chapters but if he doesn't well he disappears for 5 chapters. and i don't want to add mindless action for no reason, like him fighting an army of scorpion just for the sake of filling holes... I think that's stupid.
     
  7. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I think it's the lesser of two evils to have him disappear for five chapters than to add in meaningless subplot or keep coming back to him every chapter just to say "Yup, he's still thinkin'..." If you left off on an enticing cliffhanger, it could keep the reader going, though you run the risk of them annoyed you haven't come back to it. It could work, though.

    Another option is to take a meaningless subplot and make it meaningful. Incorporate a new element into your story, foreshadow it, and reflect on it. Not saying that's easy, but it's possible and I've had to do it. They've actually improved my story.

    You could also shift around the subplot so that there is more before his contemplation, and/or more after he returns to the story
     
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  8. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    Thanks, this made me realize I think i should go back to the first thing I did which was leaving the reader in a cliff hanger. but obviously cause i'm can never settle down i'm doubting this too ahaha. soo yeah, i feel like this freaking novel will never be over, anyway thanks a lot for the help :) i'm going back to this puzzle inside a maze inside a rubiks cube that is to write a freaking novel. i hate this so much ahah
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    With any story I find it useful to think in scenes. So at the beginning of the chapter I visualise what is happening before I write it down.

    Even with chapters where the character is fairly alone they are thinking, feeling, moving and the story is progressing. If there isn't a scene which is progressing character or story, like seeing Satan and having a discussion with him, then skip it and say ... forty days later

    Whilst he is thinking and feeling what is he doing ? Presumably he isn't being a Hindu Guru sitting crossed leg all day.
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    The middle is something I always have a problem with too, actually this post made me think about my stories and the whole structure, especially of the middle and I really hope they are ok. I'm starting to realize that as much as I like the planning and plotting part I think it's one of my weaknesses as a writer. How do you improve that? Guess I have to go and study some writers I like to see how it should be done. Sorry, I know this wasn't a very helpful post but i still wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    A couple of writers taught me the secret to this. Keep asking yourself 'how can I make this worse.' When you writing is going slowly and running out of steam it is time to shake the characters up a bit. (or a lot)
     
  12. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I usually find that when I have a boring middle, it means I've gotten stuck into thinking there has to be a certain amount of writing there that's not really necessary. So what I do is find the next major plot event and figure out exactly what needs to happen to get me from here to there, then start systematically making those things happen.

    For example, in one story, I had a character learning a forbidden kind of magic, and I needed her to get caught and sent to jail. I broke that down into two steps - first, she has to start doing stuff that would arouse suspicion, because at that point she wasn't doing anything that would prompt anyone to investigate for dark magic; and then she had to get caught doing it. So I had her get a job she hated (barmaid) and start taking out her frustrations by doing subtle malicious spells on obnoxious customers, and then one day I had an investigator walk into her bar and catch her in the act. Boom - now she's in jail. (And now I'm stuck on how to orchestrate a convincing jailbreak. *sigh*)
     

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