For me, beginnings are easy. I get my ideas in flashes – a character, several characters, an image, or a scene. I try to fit a story around the flash, and if it works, I gleefully hop into the story and do what a beginning is supposed to do, which is to introduce the protagonist(s), setting, and problem. I can see the ending.

But, oh, the middle. I plunge myself into the story, hot and excited, and then, usually about 40-80 pages in, I come to the abhorred, terrifying MIDDLE. The place where I have to put events, where things happen to my heroine(s) and hero(es). According to my plot gurus (more on them in a future post), this is where the real suspense and excitement are supposed to be housed. Here is where I throw up obstacles in front of my character, stymie her, baffle her, generally make her life hell, and make it seem as if she’ll never get her wish/desire/dream.

The problem is, I like my characters. I don’t want to make them unhappy. To produce a good story, a compelling story, you have to torture them. I’m naturally resistant to that. I’m also resistant to organized thinking and hard work. Yeah.

Many, many of my stories have 80 pages of introduction and then fall into the Black Hole of Unfinished Novels, which used to be a wooden ammo box and is now a folder politely called “Stories” on my external hard drive.

The past few years, I’ve been forcing myself to outline my stories, and with the advice of my friends and the aforementioned gurus, I hope to continue to get better.

Am I discouraged? Quite the contrary. It’s wonderful at my advanced age to know that I still have things to learn. Besides, I’ve learned to love outlining. No, really.



One comment on “Middles

  • Your “Middles” post explains the way many writers feel. You hit a wall and you’re stuck. Continue writing!

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