1. Commandante Lemming
    Offline

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes Received:
    1,001

    Middles...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Commandante Lemming, May 8, 2014.

    Any good tips on how to outline the middle of a novel that has a very defined beginning and ending? Right now it's just a giant black hole that I'm afraid to write into because I don't know whats in there - this has a been an issue with everything I've ever attempted writing.

    Right now - my beginning is very well developed. I follow a young news reporter working for a TV network under a tyrannical and unstable editor as she covers the election of the pope, then scores an accidentally surprise interview with said pope that catapults her to fame and makes her a rival to her abusive boss.

    The end is also somewhat well defined - the pope gets assassinated a year and a half later and we end up back at the beginning. Except by this time the reporters are in full revolt against the editor, who eventually has an on-air nervous breakdown yelling about how she believed the pope deserved to get shot (she's a bit unstable and has some religious bigotry isssues).

    In the middle, I know the characters need to grow. The heroine needs to become famous and powerful at the network, the pope needs to confront a schism in the church (which leads to his death), and I need to set up an alcoholic senior reporter to get sober and provide the straw that breaks the editor's sanity (she encourages the alcoholism to keep this person from rising). But I'm a bit lost on how to accomplish this .
     
  2. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    You need to live this story out. You said what you want to happen, so make it happen.

    Tonight, for example, I'm working on a scene that needs to show the plutocracy of the society and create tension/conflict. I think about it mowing the lawn and decide the ex-girlfriend can spy on the guy, reveals something secret about the protagonist the ex-boyfriend is helping because she spied on her ex. The friends think it's cold. The ex-girlfriend claims the risk didn't happen because she's a capable hacker, then she redeems herself helping the anti-gov activists get away.... and so on. I came up with the ideas by contemplating what I was trying to show: the society, the ex-girlfriend, the danger the protag was in, the relationship of the group of friends. Yesterday, I didn't have the scene. Today, I have the scene and the front lawn is mowed. :)
     
  3. purplehershey
    Offline

    purplehershey Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2014
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    16
    Think of the characters at the beginning. Think of the characters at the end. What's different about them? What challenges would they face while trying to get from A to B? For example a young news reporter is suddenly completely famous. There is no way that's a smooth transition. What might go wrong in this picture?

    Boss now sees previous employee as a rival. How might this boss react? Will the boss resort to healthy or unhealthy methods to cope? You mentioned abusive so I'm assuming unhealthy but what exactly does the boss do.

    As for the introduction of the new character do it immediately. It doesn't matter if you completely change what you wrote later, but if you introduce that character now, get them interacting with your other characters you'll start to develop a personality. That character will become three dimensional with quirks and annoyances and traits that you can't seem to figure out when only thinking about it in your head.
     
  4. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,685
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    This!

    Planning is fine - even necessary - but you will ultimately have to be flexible. Those wondrously serendipitous ideas will only come with the actual writing. Good luck.
     
  5. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,687
    Likes Received:
    1,081
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Layering this with what @GingerCoffee said, use your non-writing time to consider what has to happen to get your characters to their appointed doom. Come up with scenes, interactions, dialogue. Consider their histories and motivations. Wrestle with the hard realities of your plot, e.g., where do the characters need to be for the crucial events to take place? New York? Rome? Tallahassee? :p How're you going to get them there, and what happens when they are? Write these ideas down, at least in sketch form, even though they don't follow chronologically from the place you left off writing. (You can cut and paste and rearrange later.)

    Have fun with it. Say "Wouldn't it be cool if A ran into D and this or that happened?" Throw in some wrinkles and plot twists, making sure they arise from the characters and the situation they're in.

    Let your creative mind work. You've communicated enough about your novel's scenario that I as a member of this forum could probably come up with some middle-filling ideas for you. Which tells me that you, who "know" these characters, would do even better if you step back from it a little and let the dough rise.

    It's like putting together a puzzle. You've got the border done, so to speak. Keep looking at the pieces, pick out the ones that are distinctive, figure out approximately where they need to go, and build out from the nodes they make until everything comes together.
     
  6. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,535
    Well, what are the character milestones? You don't just become strong and powerful at work overnight - what did the MC do, what kind of trauma did she go through to teach her to stand up for herself, what people did she meet to give her such a powerful network that she needn't fear the editor anymore? What powerful papers, editors, directors, publishers, fellow journalists with a massive blog and twitter following are on her side that would make her a rival to the abusive editor?

    How does the reporter become sober? What milestones are there? What opportunities are there for the abusive editor to justify encouraging him to be sober without seeming like she's out to destroy him? And what wakes the reporter up to this fact? What makes up his mind that no amount of manipulation can sway him? Does the MC have a hand in this?

    Basically, you have no idea how your characters transition from one to the other. You need to give them a life - how would a normal person, with a stroke of luck and perhaps meeting a nice person here and there, naturally get herself up the career ladder? How do real alcoholics recover and find the resolve to sober up? Maybe what you need is to find real life stories and see what motivated people and what kinda things happened in their lives to shape them into who they are today - and then translate some of that to your characters.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  7. ToeKneeBlack
    Offline

    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2014
    Messages:
    592
    Likes Received:
    207
    The alcoholic could find something new in his life that the main character can't compete with, possibly an old friend who needs him to be dependable, or a young relative with no other family.
     
  8. Commandante Lemming
    Offline

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes Received:
    1,001
    Thanks everyone for the replies on this thread late in the game - actually they are still pretty useful although I've fleshed out a lot of my plot since I first joined (actually the funny thing is that I'm now having big trouble going back and writing the beginning, where I was originally stuck - because I have difficulty getting back into the characters' heads in their "raw" states before all of the action). The middle is not totally sketched but it's filling in, at least in my head, so now i just have to finish my beginning, which has now been largely uprooter :p

    Just for those that asked questions on specific subjects:

    1) The protagonist becomes a threat to power for two reasons. Firstly she scores an accidental interview with the new Pope (she's promised the first post-election interview with a low-ranking cardinal in exchange for not publishing details of who he is meeting with...and that cardinal has no idea that he is about to be elected Pope himself, but he makes good on the interview.). She also has the support of the second most powerful reporter at the network, who continues putting her on his show after she gets blackballed by the editor. The editor can't fire her, because thanks to the pope interview she's labelled as the "hottest new star", so she has to keep her at the netowork but hides her on unimportant stories - which eventually blows up in her face.

    2) The alcoholic (it's a woman btw), is essentially an older version of the protagonist, a vision of what the future looks like if the protag caves to pressure and conforms. From the alcoholic's point of view, the protag is a very disturbing "Ghost of Christmas Past" who reminds her of her younger, more idealistic self who she's buried under a boozy facade for ten years. Working with the protag eventually drives her crazy to the point where she can't look in the mirror and has to quit to be able to live with herself.
     
  9. Michael the Angel
    Offline

    Michael the Angel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2014
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    11
    My advice would be to write individual scenes as they come to you.
    The body of a novel is always the hardest thing to conquer, and I wouldn't hesitate to say the number one killer for a project. I've noticed that I tend to pump more out if I refrain from trying to do the body in order. I will write chunks of the body out of order, then worry about linking them together once I have a considerable amount done.
     

Share This Page