We’re now entering the second half of July and the third week of “Summer’s Ultimate Novel.” So how does this leg of the journey feel?
S L O W.
The middle of the novel is possibly the hardest part to write. It lacks the excitement of the beginning and the fevered rush of the ending. Now we’re developing characters, weaving in backstory, and laying the foundation of the novel. But in the midst of all this, the plot suffers. The story sags. We miss the hooks and disasters and fast pace.
Even worse, sometimes we lose track of the story all together. We stare at the blank screen and wonder, “What on earth comes next?!” You might know how the story started and how you want it to end—but there’s a vast middle ground you have to cross to connect the two. If you find yourself thirsting in the desert, here’s a few ideas to consider …
Five Ways to Survive the Middle:
1. Revisit your outline. Make sure you’re not forgetting something you’d planned to write about. If you didn’t make an outline, now is the time to try one. Brainstorm ideas and sketch scenarios.
2. Read what you’ve written so far. Sometimes you’ll discover plot threads you started but forgot to pursue. However, this idea is not for the faint of heart; try it only if you’re positive you won’t get distracted or depressed by the little mistakes you’ve made so far.
3. Interview your characters. Dig out those character charts, or any other character-developing exercises you tried, and remember why you fell in love with your characters in the first place. You might even spark new ideas in the process.
4. Skip to the part you know. Not sure how to get from Point A to Point C? Forget B for now, write C, and come back to B later when you have a better grasp on the plot and length of your novel.
5. Blow stuff up. I think I read this advice on Meg Cabot’s blog. Whenever she gets stuck, she just writes something exciting, like an explosion, fire, etc. This week, Savannah had to move the death of a character to an earlier part of her novel. Yeah, that’s a good way to liven up a story … er, deaden up a story?
How does the middle of the novel feel to you? Easier, harder, or the same? Any tricks or ideas for navigating the desert? I’d love to hear them! And let me know your word counts for this week!