Writing the Middle

middleofbookA lot of writers are good at beginnings–starting off with a bang. Then there are plenty of writers who are masters of endings, knowing how to tie things up in a way that is both dramatic and satisfying. I rarely come across anyone who favors the middle section of a story.

In my experience, this is the point where I usually tend to stall out. Not only is it the largest part of the story, rather than having one (or two) big dramatic events, you have to string together a series of events with tension running through the whole thing. A lot of writing instructors refer to the middle as the ‘try/fail’ cycle, a series of conflicts and obstacles that your protagonists must somehow overcome. The nature of these conflicts will determine the level of tension, provide character growth, and propel the story to its eventual end.

Read more

Outlines and Writer’s Block

writersblockLeft to my own devices, I tend to be a by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of writer. More often than not, this gets me into trouble–not only do I end up meandering all over the place, it’s hard to finish things, and it makes writer’s block a true dead end.

When I stalled out on my current novel project, I read a book called First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Weisner, which I recommend to everyone who wants to learn how to outline. The title is a bit misleading, because at the end of the 30 days, you don’t have a true manuscript, you have a very, very detailed scene-by-scene outline. Although I didn’t go through the entire 30 day process, the book helped me get somewhat of a grasp on the method, and I am now a thorough convert. Read more