Monday, August 29, 2011

The Dreaded Middle

So here I am, standing at the mouth of the endless tunnel that is:


I know that it does end, of course, and when it does I should have smoother sailing to the finish line. But it's getting through the tunnel, blindly groping about in the dark for direction, that has me hyperventilating.

Middles are the hardest for me to write. Beginnings are a piece of cake, and I usually have a vague idea of what the ending will be at the start. But when it comes to the middle, I find myself lacking. This is where the story's plot must unfold and expand, the antagonist must wreck his well-planned (on my part) havoc, and the MC must struggle through his journey to reach the inevitable end where he will change and grow.

Plot. Villain. Hero's Journey. i.e. Not my best subjects.

The middle is where I find being a Discovery Writer snags the fabric. I begin a story with only a few general story points, so when I reach the middle and find myself forced to expand the lacking plot, my discovering ways come up short. Suddenly I have to have a battle plan. I'm horrible at battle plans! What stupid General put stupid me in charge of mapping out a stupid battle plan?!?

For Nanowrimo, I simply charged ahead without a plan. But while I did finish all five times, I am left with five horrific first drafts that I refuse to touch with a ten-foot red pencil. They would need complete re-writes, and they just aren't worth the effort.

So what to do? Hold a major brainstorm session - to figure out a few more story points at the very least. Right now I'm just taking it one scene at a time, but I really need to sit down and think this through. I refuse to let Project V become another dead-end manuscript.

Concerning a villain deficiency, I must admit that Project V's villain is more well-formed than most I have tried (and failed) to create over the years. I know that all I need is a good sit-down session to flesh him - and his dastardly plans - out, and then I shouldn't have too many problems after that. (But we'll see.)

As for the Hero's Journey angle, this usually just unfolds on its own (bless it!). If I were to try and plan it out myself? Death to Project V.

So the [temporary] solution to my problems: scheduling a few brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, trying to get an appointment with the villain is going to prove difficult - he is currently up to no good and quite busy doing so, thank you very much. And as for the plot, I believe it is currently training somewhere in the middle of the desert...


  1. ::Looks at photo:: What is it with tunnels? ::shrugs::

    Anyways... I find that I have a hard time plotting longer stories. If I sit down and outline, then I end up killing all creativity from the story - I like the spur of the moment words and ideas that flow from my fingers in a furious typing frenzy! (Apparently I'm getting out my alliteration addiction in this comment post...)

    Maybe you need to reconsider Nanowrimo. Sure, it must feel great to have something done at the end of the month - but if it isn't something that you'll even consider going back to clean up, is it worth it? You could be halfway through a dreaded middle on a *good* story rather than all the way through something not good.

    (Confession: Have never and will never do Nanowrimo. I'm going to go hide now from the Nanowrimo devotees...)

  2. @jalynnwrites

    I am definitely walking on eggshells with this book, trying only to outline just enough so I can continue on. If I have too precise an outline, like you my creativity dies. But as I write this book, I'm learning that I have to have somewhat of a plan, otherwise I lose all momentum and direction. While I have considered several other books my "learning" stories, this is my final study in the best possible way for me to write (and finish) a book. While frightening, I'm really excited, and learning a lot.

    As for Nano, "They" say that your first 200,000 words or so will be total crap, because they are the beginning writer flailing around for understanding of the craft and their own voice. On this point I have to agree, and consider my Nano novels those crappy words.

    Doing Nano taught (and teaches) me SO MUCH about my writing. If it wasn't for Nano, I never would have even REACHED the middle of a book, thereby discovering my weaknesses - and learning it IS possible for me to push through and actually finish a novel.

    Doing Nano showed me my good points and my bad, and allowed me to discover tricks and solutions by forcing me to continue working through any roadblock. I firmly believe that I would not be seriously pursuing a writing career without five years of Nano under my belt - it would have taken me DECADES to learn all that I have learned under that crazy deadline year after year.

    Although I may never touch those books again (I still hold out hope for my very first, though), I am so very glad that I wrote them.