Tags:
  1. Hysteria1987
    Offline

    Hysteria1987 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Australia

    Developing a 'Middle'

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Hysteria1987, Jun 13, 2011.

    Hello everyone,

    While I’ve always enjoyed writing and typically try to do a bang-up job no matter what I’m working on, it’s only recently that I’ve decided I’d really try for a professional-looking end-product. I guess you could say I’m pretty new to all this then. There’s techniques and tools and so forth that I’m going to have to learn, but before I can do that I’m going to need to learn that they even exist, so... please bear with me for a bit =P

    So, after looking through a few things, I’ve come to the conclusion that what I’m after is about both plot and storyline.

    So, if I’ve interpreted that right, storyline is like “Billy drove to the shops, then he drove to the video store, and then he was involved in a minor car accident”- a list, in a way. Plot is the why- Billy was motivated to go shopping by a need to buy a birthday present, and so on.

    I won’t post my storyline to try keep this short, but if you feel you’d need it then ask away and I can post it. Suffice to say, I have a ‘beginning’ and an ‘end’, and the catalyst that starts everything off. What happens in between the is another matter, and I’ve always had this problem- it crops up on most things I try and write.

    I’ve seen it written on here a few times ‘just write’- do you think this would work here, or would the storyline need more development? I feel if I did just write, it’d work for a bit before I’d end up with a group of unrelated events that don’t really contribute to the storyline- it’d end up as a list of events or something. I could be wrong here, though, you guys are the ones with the experience. It’s probably worth noting that I do have a few of these small events already planned, that mostly focus on character development and their changing relationships to each other.

    I’ve been straining for some time trying to think of what could happen on the journey of my main characters that ties into the overall storyline and that isn’t just ‘they’re being chased by oppressors’.

    I suppose what I’m asking here is, how do you tie the middle to the beginning and the end in a way that makes it interesting, coherent and ties things off successfully? What is it that you yourself do? Maybe I’m just lacking inspiration.

    ---

    And one final thing I’d like your input on- I’m reading a book right now, Magician by Raymond E. Feist. In his foreword (it’s a revised, 'author's preference edition) he states that part of the reason he feels his book was so successful was because he was ignorant of what makes a book successful in a commercial sense- it was just a story designed to satisfy his own fancies. He states that he broke ‘numerous rules of plotting along the way’.

    Now, I’m not expecting there to be some sort of concrete list of things you must or must not do, or a cookie-cutter formula that you put things in to, but I have to admit I’m somewhat intrigued by what he says, and would quite like to know what he is referring to (even if I’m only doing now what he did then- writing for self-satisfaction). Does anyone know anything on this?


    Thanks for any advice you can give. I know this is a long post, but I appreciate it =P
     
  2. JimFlagg
    Offline

    JimFlagg Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    6
    I have said this before: "The story is the easy part, its those pesky transitions that get you."

    You have a point you want to get your story to but you do not know how to get from here to there. The only way to do it is through inspiration.

    There are techniques that are used that people share but in the end, it is what ever works for you. You have to find what techniques work for you and stick with them no matter what any one says. The way you find them is through practice. I like to practice with Short Stories.

    Good luck in your quest.
     
  3. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    I can definitely relate to the feeling of having your overall plot worked out, but not the middle. This is because I'm a big picture person, so details are harder to fill in.

    My main method for working around it is to think of obstacles. For instance, I'll use Lord of the Rings as an example, because I just watched the movie for the hundredth-and-something time. The storyline/plot is "Frodo acquires ring and has to take it to Mount Doom," but then Tolkein had to come up with, what you call, the middle.

    Think what would set the characters back, and this is where you have to develop them a bit. If you know their fears (both large-scale worries and acute phobias), you'll know what type of harrowing situations would truly threaten them. Likewise, if you know what makes them perk up, you'll have some ideas for motivations, temptations etc. Also, conflicts with other characters can create conflict. So can character flaws and quirks -- think about Pippin (LoTR) constantly making blunders that alert the enemy, and Monk (the detective from the show) putting himself in danger to fix out-of-place things that tweak his OCD.

    Knowing these kinds of things will help you fill in middle conflict.
     
  4. Hysteria1987
    Offline

    Hysteria1987 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Australia
    I've actually had an idea or two since I last posted- whether or not they're usable or not, well, I'll have to try and fit them in to see first. Either way, they may need more, but there's potential...

    Well, practice makes perfect =P I can certainly tell I've come a long way from when I started, but I know I have a long way to go yet.

    You and me both, it seems =P I've not really thought of myself as a big picture kind of guy before but here at least it makes sense. Fortunately I don't find it too hard to come up with these over-arching storylines that I like. I guess getting experience here is my next step =P

    I've just finished a fantasy trilogy myself, I could give them another look in this perspective- both at the individual stories, and the overall plot that covers all three.

    Acute phobias I haven't really considered, but large-scale fears I feel I've done in spades, I could certainly use these to create some inter-group conflicts.


    So, thank you both =P I've certainly got something to start with now. My plans so far cover only the first chapter, the beginning of the second, and how it will end, but I can sure work from there.
     
  5. Protar
    Offline

    Protar Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    UK
    If you're having trouble with your middle try writing a list of events that take place in the book. Maybe start with the beginning and end events and figure out what would logically follow on from, or precede these events. Just keep on alternating until you meet up in the middle. Or you could do it chronologically, it's up to you.
     
  6. Hysteria1987
    Offline

    Hysteria1987 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Australia
    I've actually had a few days off writing now, in part to sort myself out and in part because my routine's been all over the place. It's bad, I know =P I've just had a first look at my work again and I've found I've lost the flow a bit, so tomorrow (it's too late and I'm too tired to do things properly now- just about time for bed) I'm going to go over it again and find out where I've left it off.

    Once I work out where I'll take the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2, I reckon this will be one of the techniques I'll be using for a while, though I've come to the conclusion that there needs to be more development in these earlier chapters as well. With only two main characters, and one of them essentially a child, there's not much scope for relationship development, or subplots. That said, I have a boatload of plot events I can use, many inspired by the responses I've received to this topic. I've yet to use the responses to help me develop a 'middle', due to the lack of time I mentioned earlier, but tomorrow's a new day.

    In the meanwhile, even the paragraphs I thought were good before I'm looking at in a new light now- they're not as good as I thought, and most importantly I understand why. This is a good thing, so there'll be more revising ahead =P
     

Share This Page