1. Pheonix
    Offline

    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Messages:
    5,716
    Likes Received:
    401
    Location:
    The Windy City

    Gah! I hate the middle of my story!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Pheonix, Jul 25, 2012.

    Has it ever happened to you that you have an amazing idea for a story, and both the beginning and the end are crystal clear in your mind, and you know just to start and then you get past the introduction and you have everything set up just right, and all you characters have been introduced, and are just begging for a lengthy Act II to flesh out their personalities and push the action to the ending... and you sit there looking at the screen for 20 minutes thinking, "now what." Then you start writing 3 weeks later and think... "This is crap."

    Well, that happens to me alot. Any suggestions on what can be done?
     
  2. B93
    Offline

    B93 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    32
    I don't have enough experience to have had that exact scenario happen, but I feel your pain. In my case I wrote the whole story and then decided the ending wasn't exciting enough and came too soon. I decided most of my ending was really the middle of the story. I've been extending the plot in the middle and end, and it is a tough row to hoe. I wish I'd planned it to be longer in the first place.

    I suspect a good tool for us would be brainstorming outlines. I sort of did that, but not really. With only outlines to write, you can quickly try a bunch of different plot variations, and then write the story from best of them. Don't feel that a plot outline has to be good to write it down - just do a bunch of them and see what comes out.
     
  3. MeganHeld
    Offline

    MeganHeld Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Just keep writing. You will have clear moments of events throughout the middle of the novel, it just takes time. I always struggle with some of the middle when I don't know where I want to go right away. I tend to wait till I get a clear image of an event or something action based I need to get to and then write my story to reach that moment. As some people would say: "Don't think, write." Try it. Editing exists for a reason after you finish the first draft.
     
  4. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Yup this happened to me :D I had a beginning, I finally had an ending, but absolutely nothing in the middle. I just wrote what I could to get the story going, and on the first rewrite when I was trying to make everything coherent, I found the middle SO BORING. It was just 4 of my characters doing nothing but sitting round in a hall, talking to themselves, basically telling the reader everything that they already know. I realised I had to slash it quite mercilessly.

    What you have to do is create something for your secondary characters to do. I created a leak of some energy dust so that my secondary characters could go off into the Underworld to collect it rather than sit around in a hall talking - worked like a charm actually :D Just think of something vaguely related - it might even help you tie up future loose ends, as mine did. Originally my MC couldn't escape from the Underworld towards the end, but thanks to my new subplot, I had characters already in the Underworld, and the 2 ended up tying together quite nicely.
     
  5. prettyprettyprettygood
    Offline

    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Messages:
    452
    Likes Received:
    46
    Location:
    Edinburgh
    It might help to think of your story not as a journey from A-B, but more like A-B-C-D-E, and so on. Make it a priority at the planning stage to think up some great sequences to include along the way, like fights, chases, romance, a humorous scene, whatever works for your story. Many people prefer to write without planning like this, but for your predicament it might be helpful to have some 'peaks' to work towards.
     
  6. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Whenever this happens to me I feel like I've missed it , primarily, in the character department.

    Say I've got an idea for a thriller- a group of teenagers who crash land on an island of
    cannibals - but now what? - I've got the crash - I've even got a vague ending of the survivors paddling out on a
    raft hoping the tide won't carry them back to cannibal isle -
    but what about the inbetween bit?
    I brainstorm some more - essentially this is a combo character & events issue.
    Once the characters stop being the - sleazy pampered blonde , the goodlooking guy and
    his potty mouth friend and they develop interests , fears and quirks - I can suddenly work
    with them and develope the path they'll take which will open new plot twists. Rather than
    have them just stumbling around waiting to be bumped off.

    If I brainstorm, events - the typical ones - might crop up -
    foraging for food, water , making shelter and a signal fire. Bickering
    and sex. Though the reader might expect this, he wants more.
    So I brainstorm - What if some of the characters have goals
    other than just the usual - I want to get off the island. What
    if one has always wanted to prove his masculinity and takes
    charge - though has no skills to back up his big plans. What if
    a character is color blind and eats some psychedelic berries -
    and gets hooked. What if one girl is so hungry - she joins the
    tribe of cannibals with the hopes of devoring her bullying schoolmates.
    What if another kid the meek one finds a tribal mask in a forgotten cave
    and elevates in power?

    By brainstorming - even in the middle of my writing I can create
    new problems , new events to keep the reader shaken up - he might
    guess the ending of my book - but maybe not the plot twists
    that got him there.
     
  7. Burlbird
    Offline

    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages:
    978
    Likes Received:
    295
    Location:
    Somewhere Else
    Worst kind of writer's block! Especially if you leave the story for a while and return to it later thinking to yourself "What was I thinking!" :)
    What works for me is to simply forget about the ending and continue writing the mid section with an open mind. Then, if you succeed in reaching the end that resembles what you previously had in mind - yupiee! ...if not, don't feel bad, maybe that story was not meant to end that way!!
     
  8. Pheonix
    Offline

    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Messages:
    5,716
    Likes Received:
    401
    Location:
    The Windy City
    Wow, I hadn't thought about exploring characterization as a way to drive plot. I guess i've always thought about plot being the driving force and characters developing along the way, but now that you say that, it makes sense! Thanks!
     
  9. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Yes , I thought plot was something that stood on it's own too, But I'm beginning to see they go hand in hand - plot / characters ,
    characters/ plot. The better handle you have on your character and goals - the easier it is to develop a plot and flesh out the
    middle bits.

    Right now , I'm kind of struggling cause I'm not sure what my mc's goals are so I'm trying to give him mini goals.
     
  10. Silvore
    Offline

    Silvore New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Character Development

    Yeah, I believe that letting the character's drive the plot really helps.

    I was in the situation you were in. I wrote this one story where I had the clear idea of what I wanted for the ending that I thought would be amazing. But when I had to get down to writing it I hated the middle of my story since it was really just a filler. It was kind of robotic and unnatural, feeling like I trudged the story along to get to the ending, which in itself made the ending not so great.

    I don't know if this is happening to you, but here's what I think helps. The problem I had with my earlier story was that I knew what steps had to be taken to get to the end, so I just plopped them in without allowing them to flow naturally. I realized this when I read Stephen King's book, "On Writing", which gives all his tips on how to write good fiction. Now as I'm writing my new story I'm taking his advice and overcoming my fault.

    What King suggests is letting your characters develop on their own. Take your idea for the story (e.g. "what would happen if a group of teens wound up on a cannibal island (credit to peachalulu)), create the basis of your characters needed for this story, but then let the plot unfold according to the characters as you write the story. This doesn't mean you have no idea where its going, but don't plan out each scene of the story from start to finish and then write from that. What I found was just having an idea of what you want to happen soon (okay, this idea needs to unfold soon), and let your characters get themselves there. The result was that I learned things about my characters that I hadn't known before..

    I have this one character in my story who is supposed to be an outcast nerd. The way my story goes is that with each chapter I focus on a different teen from a group of people in a high school. I previously dreaded coming to the nerd character because I wasn't really interested in him. But when I played off of what the other characters were doing, I started to get an idea of what would go on in the chapter centered on the nerd. As I wrote I liked him more and more because I started learning things about him. He is the type of person who is a know-it-all and kisses up to teachers, but he doesn't realize that he's doing this; it's just something that got ingrained in him somewhere along his life. As I liked him more I started incorporating him into other scenes with characters and he actually drove the story along.

    What I'm trying to say here is don't get strapped down to the plot. If you have your middle all mapped out, go to the place that it starts to bore you and look at one of the characters. What about them interests you? How do you want the reader to feel about them? Do you want them to be liked, sympathized for, or despised? Once you see this start to think up ideas of how to show it in the story. This will lead to new scenes that will hopefully excite you more than you have been. If you aren't sure how you want them to resonate with the reader, take their basis and see how you can tweak it. So he's a sarcastic pessimist, you know that. But is there something that he loves? Bring it out. Is this sarcasm used to hide insecurities? Bring that out.

    What I'm suggesting is essentially rewriting your story from where you got bored. I know this is annoying, and I always hate rewriting something, but don't let the plot drive the characters this time. Let the characters drive the plot, and hopefully you'll get a more enjoyable road leading to the end.
     
  11. Pheonix
    Offline

    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Messages:
    5,716
    Likes Received:
    401
    Location:
    The Windy City
    It is a pain, but if i leads to a better story it's worth it. You made a lot of good points. Again, I think this is really gonna help me out! I've always thought that characters should drive the plot, so I need to actually let my characters do that!
     
  12. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    This is the time when you concentrate on your character arc. All stories have a period where the author lets off the gas. It can be for one chapter, a few chapters or maybe longer. Lee Child is known the the fast pace his Jack Reacher series keeps, but even he has slow down time b/c it'll wear the reader out. Personally, I use time spent with the antagonist or another protagonist (away from the MC) as a time to kind of crack the throttle a bit for the reader to catch their breath.

    I tend to write different though: I'm not an outline kind of writer, the novels start with a premise, a basic idea of what it'll be about and that's it. My MC tells ME what happens, even the ending to the story itself, so I tend to have the middle and no ending sometimes.

    The best thing to do is look at what you have in the beginning and the end and create some challenges, either internal or external, for the character's to experience that allows him or her to grow and be liked by the reader too.
     
  13. bsbvermont
    Offline

    bsbvermont Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    1
    Take a walk...clear your head, ponder and come back to it with fresh eyes. Usually works for me.
     
  14. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Ghost Tower
    One thing that helped me was writing down the options. Thinking about the options I could do only made the same few circle around in my head. Writing them down helped me move all the old, tired ideas out of my mind so I could think of something better.
     
  15. nephlm
    Offline

    nephlm Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    In the pinned Writing Resource Links thread in the General Writing forum is a link to Jim Butcher's livejournal. About halfway down the livejounal is an entry called the Great Swampy Middle where he discusses how toxic the middle is.
    http://jimbutcher.livejournal.com/

    The bullet list of his suggestions:
    * The Big Middle
    * Mini-arc
    * New Subplot
    * New Character
    * Keep Writing

    You can read the entry for the details.
     

Share This Page