Wednesday, June 27, 2007
That Dreaded Middle
I'm sure there has been a book or two that has captured your interest up front but somewhere in the middle it derailed. The wheels were turning but the story was no longer going anywhere. Perhaps all the questions that had you hooked at the beginning had been answered and no new conflict had been introduced.
Authors dread the possibility that their story middles could turn into a parched desert of wasted chapters.
In my experience, it seems that those authors who write "by the seat of their pants" or who don't map out the pacing of their story are those who are in particular danger of having parched middles.
Authors enjoy giving their characters freedom to develop and grow. It can be rather adventurous when our characters show a surprising characteristic we didn't expect. But what happens when you are 10,000 words into a 90,000-word manuscript and your heroine suddenly blurts out the secret you thought you'd save for the next to last chapter?
There is power in planning. It will help you stay in control of your characters and plot pacing. It can also help you avoid writer's block when you have a plan mapped out. If you just sit down at your computer without a plan and hope your characters show up to perform, you may be sorely disappointed in the show.
Our friend Tracie Peterson is a good teacher on writing the chapter-by-chapter summary before you even start into chapter 1. She recommends that all authors learn to write them -- even if they never get away from the "by the seat of their pants" tendency.
Many an author has missed a publisher's deadline when their story derailed in the middle of writing and they had to rethink where the plot was going. One major missed deadline has the power to wreck your career potential. (Maybe I'll blog about that another day.)
Here's to all those authors who have mastered the middles. Who keep us galloping to the end with refreshing enlightenment along the way.
Editor Du Jour Becky