Tuesday, July 14, 2009

VW#2: Middlemarch



I. Mired in the Middle

When we embark on the journey of writing a story, we are usually excited and wound up and raring to go. Likewise when we come to the end of the writing journey, we are tired and fulfilled and very glad to type those two blessed words that wraps it all up: The End.

Between those two points in the story is a stretch that has neither beginning nor end. It's almost like no man's land, a place where the work seems to slow down and drag out, as if it were caught in a desert of unseen quicksand. When writers refer to working in that place -- usually with a heavy sigh -- we talk about "slogging through" and "pushing on" as if we were in danger of sinking into some vast, unimaginable pit of despair. Few writers enjoy it and most that I know hate it -- the dull, energy- and life-sucking maw that is the middle of a story.

But how did story middles get such a terrible rep, and why do writers have such trouble working through them?

II. Amid the Story

I think the middle of a story is where a several things combine to make turn the pleasures and joys of creating into the slaving away in the workhouse of writing: time line, energy level, story structure and spiritual status. If even one of these four horsemen of the story middle gain enough ground inside the writer's head, they can set off a creative apocalypse. The inevitable result is a half-finished manuscript sitting on someone's shelf and silently gathering dust.

Time line, or the chronology of events, has much to do with turning the middle of the story into a dead zone. In terms of story, very little can be initiated or resolved in the middle. The characters and conflict have already been ushered in during the beginning, and it's not yet time for the climax and resolution. If the writer really hasn't thought out the events, the middle can turn into an empty stretch of time where nothing much happens.

All writers have different energy levels, but I think it's safe to say we're all happiest when we're starting or finishing something. Setting out to explore a bright new shiny idea is fun, and wrapping up a full tour of it is satisfying and bestows a sense of accomplishment. The middle is definitely where the glitter falls away, our enthusiasm starts to ebb and the adrenalin or determination or whatever kickstarted the project drops to a dangerous low, and worse, stays there.

While story structure is largely dependent on the writer's plan or thought process during the writing, it can also meddle with things in the middle. Probably the most common structural mistake writers make is not thinking and/or planning exactly what happens in the mid-story, which creates that endless stretch of nothing much happens.

The writer's spiritual status is hard-wired to the story. When things are going well and we're producing a decent amount of words or pages, we feel good. When things aren't going anywhere, and we stall or become blocked, we feel lousy. And while our writer self-esteem is not entirely dependent on how the work is going, it plays a big part in how we feel about ourselves as writers.

Whatever the cause of getting stuck in mid-story, there are definitely a number of things a writer can do about it.

III. Marching through the Middle

Rather than thinking of mid-story as some horrible Sargasso Sea or endless desert where you're doomed to flounder, take some time to make preparations for that part of the writing journey. The better prepared you are to deal with the least fun part of the work, the more efficiently you'll be able to march through it. Here are some ideas on how to move along:

Putting the Stuff in Stuff Happens -- this is probably the most logical approach to marching through middle, and the one I use most frequently. Instead of allowing the middle of the story to be a gray area where you're not sure of exactly what happens, plot it out. I use a definitive time line approach by listing a sequence of events that take place in mid-story. I don't start writing the book until I've nailed down the middle as well as I have the beginning and the end.

Mid-story Subplots -- the main conflict takes up the most story space, but it's also hampered by the fact that it generally has to begin at the beginning and end at the ending. Mid-story is definitely a place to develop the main conflict, raise the stakes, increase the pressure, etc., but it's also an opportunity to begin and end subplots related to the main conflict. These are the shorter stories-within-a-story that can belong to the protagonist, secondary characters of even the antagonist.

Mock resolution -- this mid- to late-story is a favorite of suspense and thriller writers, which they use to present what seems to be a conclusion of the main conflict. The most common form of the mock resolution is the presentation of a red herring that seems to answer all the story's questions. Some writers use multiple mock resolutions to slog through their middles, but I don't advise using more than two or three at the most as they can get tiresome fast.

All Hell Breaks Loose -- one seasoned writer told me, "When you're bored, blow up something" -- and I've tried this, and it works. The usual form is to introduce into the middle of the story an unexpected or abrupt event that results in short-term chaos (like blowing up something.) And while it seems a bit crude, the all hell breaks loose approach to the middle can be fun and revive the writer's interest in the story.

Support Cast Crisis -- Your secondary characters can prove to be most valuable in mid-story, especially if you've developed them into fully-realized individuals. Look at ways you can use their storylines to create or converge with a secondary conflict in the middle of your story.

Interluding -- I don't recommend stepping out of the story too often, but the interlude approach to fleshing out the middle can be pretty effective. This is when the writer basically puts everything related to the main conflict on hold while the protagonist spends some quality time with another character. For example, in romance it's usually the first consummation point of the sexual relationship between the hero and heroine (which is why most first sex scenes in romance novels seem to start on page 200.) In SF, the characters are inevitably cut off from the rest of their pals or marooned somewhere. The interlude doesn't do much for the plot, and I think it can evolve into lazy writing habits, but it does allow the writer to develop the characters and their relationships with each other a bit more before getting back to the business of wrecking their lives. My advice is to use this one sparingly.

IV. Attitude is Everything

Getting through the middle of a story is generally a lot of work and not much fun. It isn't a place where writers tend to obsess about the details as much as the page or wordcount, and perhaps that is our biggest mistake when it comes to crafting story: whether we run out of ideas, get bored, feel frustrated or begin to doubt the wisdom of trying to realize the story idea, it always seems to comes out on the page.

Making a major attitude adjustment may be the one universal cure for muddling in the middle. Train yourself to stop thinking of mid-story as a boring place where nothing much happens. Instead, see it as a series of windows of opportunity, where you can really shine as a storyteller. Look for ways through the middle of story where you can keep your reader glued to the book by delivering the same quality story you gave them in the beginning and that you will give them in the end.

However you choose to tackle this problem, keep in mind that while the middle of story may not seem as dazzling as the beginning, or as thrilling as the end, it is just as important as both. Don't wander into the middle of your story unprepared for what will (or, more likely) won't happen. Make a plan, draw map, arm yourself with ideas and train yourself to go steadily. Don't just slog through -- make the journey a memorable one.

V. Related Links

Vickie Britton talks about ways to up the wattage with her article Creating an Exciting Middle to the Novel ~ Making the Middle Chapters as Good as the Beginning and End

Romance author Karen Harbaugh has a bit on story structure and middle of the book blues in a section of her On Writing page here

Dr. Vicki Hinze's article Sagging Middles will have you building bridges through your middles and more.

Holly Lisle talks about what we all wrestle with in her article Middles.

Alicia Rasley's article Tightening the Sagging Middle has some interesting suggestions from a mainly RWA-minded POV.

Get plotting tips from Katherine Swarts's article Beginning, Middle, and End ~ A Half Dozen Hints for Creating a Satisfying Story Plot

Photo credit: Bartlomiej Kwieciszewski

Today's LB&LI giveaways are:

1) A BookWish -- any book of your choice available to order from an online bookseller, up to a max cost of $30.00 U.S. (I'll throw in whatever shipping is involved.)

2) a goodie bag which will include unsigned new copies of:

Uncommon ~ Finding Your Path to Significance by Tony Dungy (hardcover)

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi (trade pb)
Animal Attraction by Charlene Teglia (trade pb)
The Missing by Shiloh Walker (trade pb)

Taken by Sin by Jaci Burton
Temptation and Lies by Donna Hill
Kissing Midnight and Breaking Midnight by Emma Holly (paperbacks)
Hawkspar by Holly Lisle (paperback)
The Iron Hunt and Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu
Wild Thing by Marjorie M. Liu, Maggie Shayne, Alyssa Day and Meljean Brook (paperback; contains Hunter Kiss, Marjorie's very first story in the Iron Hunt universe)

plus signed paperback copies of my novels StarDoc and Evermore, as well as some other surprises.

If you'd like to win one of these two giveaways, comment on this workshop before midnight EST on Wednesday, July 15, 2009. I will draw two names from everyone who participates and send one winner the goodie bag and grant the other a BookWish.

Everyone who participates in the giveaways this week will also be automatically entered in my grand prize drawing on July 21st, 2009 for the winner's choice of either a ASUS Eee PC 1005HA-P 10.1" Seashell Netbook or a Sony PRS-700BC Digital Reader.

As always, all LB&LI giveaways are open to anyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past (and if anyone wants a peek at this year's LB&LI goodie room at Casa PBW, and see what's going in those goodie bags, stop by the photoblog today.)

Other LB&LI Workshop Links -- new links are being added every day, so keep checking the list for new workshops (due to different time zones, some of these will go live later in the day):

E-publishing: From Query to Final Edits and Beyond -- Authors Madison Blake, Paris Brandon, Cerise Deland, Fran Lee, Afton Locke and Nina Pierce provide helpful insights and tips on e-publishing.

The Ten Commandments by Joely Sue Burkhart -- as readers, we all have lines that we don’t want an author to cross, else their book may very well end up denting the wall. Here are a few commandments, either based on my personal reading tastes or something I’ve learned from my lovely talented evil editors.

Birds and Flight by Suelder -- first in a series of workshops on birds that will focus on the science as well as how to adapt this information to writing.

How-To Books that Saved My Life by Alison Kent -- a look at the three how-to books the author can't write without, and why.

Break through your fears and write! by Tamlyn Leigh -- One of the biggest obstacles on a writer's path is their fear. It can be for anything: fear people won't like their stories, fear they aren't good enough. In my workshop I want to offer tools to break through that fear, and get everyone writing!

Writing Prompt Series - Who-two? by Rosina Lippi -- Build another character on the basis of a new image Rosina will provide.

From Pantser To Plotter: How I Joined The Dark Side by Kait Nolan -- Tuesday's topic: My Problems With Pantsing

Word Count and Categories by Midnight Spencer –- take a look at what some of the top eBook publisher’s break up word counts and what type of categories selling on their websites.

Left Behind and Pondering Deadlines bu Charlene Teglia -- the pros and cons of deadlines.

Epubs-wondering where to start? by Shiloh Walker -- Info for those curious about epubs and where to start.

Killer Campaigns: Marketing Calendar by Maria Zannini -- Market planning your book

107 comments:

  1. Lauraine D.12:45 AM

    You have given me a lot to think about on writting for the middle. I usually do the bubble thing but I'm going to try the time line and see if that helps and I love your suggestion on blowing things up.
    LD

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  2. Fantastic post, Lynn. I am ready for my middle muddle these days, but while I'm going through it, like now, I have to keep reminding myself I've been here before and I WILL get out of it. Thanks for the extra links.

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  3. Anonymous12:57 AM

    Another great post which I learned something.

    Cool another awesome prize packs.

    Thanks for the extra links.

    Terri W.

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  4. Thank you Lynn, saggy middles are a big problem of mine. I think because I don't plan, I just write. Sometime it will all come together, other itmes I need to switch to another WIP and come back fresh. Your post has given me some food for thought. Thanks.

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  5. Excellent post! Lots of helpful things to think about as I trudge through the middle of my first WiP. Thanks for all the tips and links!

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  6. P T N1:30 AM

    Makes a lot of sense regarding the middle of a story and helps me to understand a little more of why I'm more or less stuck where I am at right now. Fortunately, I do not dread writing the middle...yet. There are so many events I have for my story that it is hard to choose the right one to further the story along.

    In any case, thank you for today's post :)

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  7. I think middles suffer a bit from our tendency to want to reach the destination and skim over the journey.

    It's thrilling to get started and it's satisfying to finish. But the middle part is the journey, we should be loving it and paying it the attention it deserves. :)

    Thank you for your tips!

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  8. The middle is when my demon muses (or anti-muses, if you will) come out to play. They torture me with statements about how boring my stories are most of the time. I wouldn't mind blowing them up...

    ;)

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  9. Sort of related to the workshop: WOW that is a lot of prizes.

    I'm currently slogging through middles in two stories, and am getting quite bored. I might have to try blowing something up.

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  10. I use the 'give/take' method for getting through the middle: every time I give something to the characters that they want or need, I take something else away.

    Kind of like peaks and troughs on a graph - keeps the characters hopping and wondering what next could possibly happen.

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  11. Once again, you hit on the exact problems which I (and most writers) struggle with. Thanks.

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  12. writers-block-itis anyone else.
    hehehehe ... happens most of the time for me

    :winks:

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  13. Anonymous2:32 AM

    great ideas and information
    great prizes please count me in

    kh

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  14. Really enjoyed this one too! I tend to quit in the middle, because I get bored. Which is why I have half-finished painting projects, sewing projects, crochet projects, writing projects.....uhhh yeah. But this applies to all of it, really. ;-)
    Emily H.

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  15. It's always good to be reminded of the nuts and bolts. Getting back to basics is what keeps the writing grounded. Thank you.

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  16. Another excellent workshop! Middles are the worst! I think I like the 'blow something up' method the most myself.

    Anyways, looking forward to the rest of your workshops!

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  17. I've been using Diana Peterfreund's 4-act advice for awhile. It helps me keep my middle from becoming stagnant.

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  18. Hmm...it's the beginnings that get me. I can do middles--I can see all the action and emotions and passion exploding, but actually getting to that point is a slog for me. I always feel uncertain or unsure of whether I'm beginning the book in the right spot, or if I have a good enough handle on my characters, and typically end up with a messy first 50 pages that I think are pure dreck. Any advice on how to work through the beginning (besides the whole "start at the action" thing--I do, but I always feel it dragging after that first initial burst of action).

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  19. excellent food for thought. I tend to go with the all hell breaks loose method when I'm just stuck and ready to strangle characters for thumb-twiddling while they're waiting to get to the ending of the tory.

    Plotting is not my strongest point through the middle. I'll have the major points all sorted out and wing it from there too often

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  20. thank you Lynn! That was a very insightful post. As I am going to edit my book soon, I will use your tip on the subplot for the middle and the crisis for my supporting cast. Think someone is going to get killed *grins evilly* (one of my characters really deserves that ending)

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  21. I wonder if people who outline have an easier time with middles than pantsers.

    Of course, outlining the middle can be very difficult, too.

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  22. Another good post. And exactly what I could use at the moment.

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  23. Middles can be pretty harrowing, the severity of them depending upon the length of the proposed book. This is where I find outlines to be extremely helpful, for me at least, because I tend to write some pretty detailed outlines, complete with dialogue. I guess the trick is learning how to come at the book with freshness and joy each time we sit down to write and getting that to carry us through to the end. Another informative post, thank you.
    Margay

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  24. This terrific post couldn't have arrived at a better moment. You've given me a checklist. I can say "I've got this right, and this, and... oops, definitely need to work on that, and that...", which means I can fix it rather than just have a vague sense that it's not quite working.

    Thank you!

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  25. Thanks, Lyn. This is very timely for me, as I'm wandering the dreaded Middle Marsh of my WIP at the moment.

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  26. Meleeta7:58 AM

    My problem is I can't seem to get beyond the beginning in my stories. Whether it is my inner voice tellig me that while I have good ideas for stories But I don't have the education or the social niceties to pull from. With your idea of doing a timeline with the middle planned out might work for me or then again not. Thanks for the info though.

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  27. I have a lot less trouble with my middles now that I use the Snowflake Method to plan my books. If there's nothing happening in the middle, I can't progress through the planning process and I KNOW there's nothing happening long before I actually get there in the writing.

    Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method

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  28. When I get muddled in the middle, it's a sign that I haven't got everything quite right in the set up or I haven't really elevated the stakes enough for my protagonist(s).

    What I do is go back to my outline and make sure there aren't hiccups or holes in the overall story arc.

    If I can shore up the outline, I've almost always fixed the middle problem.

    I also *always* hit a place where I loathe my story--and it usually comes in the middle or just before the turn to the end. I think it's a fear thing and I've learned not to freak out. If I take some metaphorical deep breaths, I can get past it and to the story's end.

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  29. Ah the middle. Or the Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle, as I tend to refer to it. This would be the reason I decided to become a plotter. Because it was always that vast desert of nothing that drove me to either write a subpar middle or abandon a project entirely.

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  30. I love blowing things up in the middle! I also like to make lists of fun things I could put in and try to use as many as possible, and try to make sure I develop everything that got introduced in Act 1. Thanks for the awesome links on story middles.

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  31. I'm right there at the moment, in the middle of my WIP. I planned this one in detail, and very deliberately planted an "all hell breaks loose" to keep things banging along. Definitely revived my spirits when I reached that point last week.

    Happy Birthday, Lynn! (It flagged up on the member birthdays section in Romance Devas.) Have a lovely day! :)

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  32. Fantastic post, Lynn.

    I am crazy, I suppose, but I like writing middles. The characters are fairly established in their own right and now I can mess with them. Rather evil, I know. :-)

    Nina
    npaules@nfdc.net

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  33. Thanks for the great post.

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  34. I'm just about at the halfway point of SLM and neeeeded this. I think on today's lunch break instead of staring down a new scene I'm struggling with, I'll work on plotting it out so I don't waste more time figuring out what happens when. It's so... OBVIOUS and yet we get so excited we don't do it. :)

    My favorite tip for getting through the middle is from Joely Sue Burkhart: Give them what they want.

    All characters start the novel with a tangible goal of some sort that we know will be peeled back in layers to reveal their ultimate need instead of want, but one of the most effective ways to strip it is to give them their initial goal and see how it doesn't fulfill them. :)

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  35. I just checked out the photoblog and wanted to ask: where'd you get the bags for the goodie bags? They're so cute!

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  36. Evangeline wrote: Any advice on how to work through the beginning (besides the whole "start at the action" thing--I do, but I always feel it dragging after that first initial burst of action).

    I don't always start at the action point, but I try to begin at the trigger or catalyst point for the conflict. This can be a letter arriving (If Angels Burn), a killer risking his life to protect the victim of another killer (Private Demon) or the furious inner tirade of a woman who has been unceremoniously dumped by her lover (Dark Need). I like starting with dialogue or action whenever possible, to avoid weather reporting and other expositional stuff, but I'm experimenting now, too. The book I'm working on starts with a report of an abandoned child being found (the actual form, filled in by the DCS caseworker.)

    I don't think you have to start a story with an outrageous hook (although if you have one, definitely use it) but whatever you choose to write or present should be at least captivating for you and the reader. Unusual beginnings always grab me as a reader. The most original I can think of off the top of my head is the one-liner in Rosina Lippi's Tied to the Tracks, which says something like "Happiness is the china shop, love is the bull." It was such a cool, clever line that I was already grinning as I went to read page one. She also does some fabulous things with chapter openings in that book; everything from e-mail texts to things people scribble in a book.

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  37. Margaret wrote: I wonder if people who outline have an easier time with middles than pantsers.

    I have a very good writer friend who is a total pantser, and he says we outliners have it easy. Since I have been his sounding board for the last ten novels, and the middle of his story is when the texts fly, I agree with him partially. The problem for outliners is that we don't have that instant-inspiration thing going for us that pantsers do, and when the story starts to wander away from the outline, we're more prone to become paralyzed.

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  38. LJ wrote: What I do is go back to my outline and make sure there aren't hiccups or holes in the overall story arc.

    I have to agree with you there; sometimes I get stuck because something isn't right, and my subconscious is putting on the brakes. It's always a good idea to look back over the plan or outline before trying to wade out of the quicksand.

    If I can shore up the outline, I've almost always fixed the middle problem.

    With me it tends to be characterization blips -- I've strayed off into somewhere the character doesn't want to go, and they're fighting me. Happens a lot at the end, too.

    I also *always* hit a place where I loathe my story--and it usually comes in the middle or just before the turn to the end. I think it's a fear thing and I've learned not to freak out. If I take some metaphorical deep breaths, I can get past it and to the story's end.

    I've got that so bad I'm hoping someone will invent a patch for it. Like the quit smoking kind, only you wear it to stop the desperate urge to toss the manuscript in the backyard fire pit.

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  39. David wrote: Happy Birthday, Lynn! (It flagged up on the member birthdays section in Romance Devas.)

    I knew I should have lied on that damn profile form, lol. Seriously, thanks, David.

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  40. Jess wrote: I just checked out the photoblog and wanted to ask: where'd you get the bags for the goodie bags? They're so cute!

    This year I bought them at Target (I think I did that with last year's bags, too.) I try to get bags that aren't too girly and that can work as bookbags or totes. These are on the small side but nice and sturdy, plus they were marked down like 50% on sale. :) You can find them in a couple of different colors and patterns in the handbag/accessory department.

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  41. Athena11:06 AM

    I've had problems in the past w/saggy middles, so thanks for that. The goody bags look good too!

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  42. I'd have to agree with you on a lot of it and I'll have to try a few of your suggestions. Great blog.

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  43. I sat down to address a "slow spot" in the middle of my manuscript. Your workshop posts are a cool summer breeze upon my rising core temperature as I dig for possibilities. I've found a treasure in your blog on this hot summer day. Eureka!
    Thank you,
    Pam

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  44. A great follow-up to yesterday's article. I've finally come to appreciate how outlining can turn the infamous "muddle in the middle" to more like "magic in the middle."

    Thanks again!

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  45. Wow, I actually made it this year! I can't say I have much trouble with middles, though I fall into the outliner category (which does not, btw, prevent the flashes of inspiration for me that redraw parts of the outline when I actually get there). Still, the suggestions you made are just as viable in the story concept and outline phase too.

    I'm looking forward to the next post and will try to sneak over to some of the others.

    And since David let the cat out of the bag, Happy Birthday :).

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  46. Great stuff. I'm in the middle now, and all four of your Horsemen are plaguing me. I actually think each one feeds the other. I had a story structure problem which sucked my energy and spirit which led me to write a couple of wrong-headed scenes as a quick fix which in turn sucked my spirit... You get the idea. If you're not careful, it's almost like getting caught in some horrible writing vortex.

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  47. Middles are definitely a muddle for me. I use the Mid Point, which is a plot term usually bandied about by screenwriters, as a way to have a signpost for that long march through the middle. Thanks for the post and the links.

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  48. If I ever get to the middle, I'm sure it will plague me as much as any other part of the story. ;) Not nearly as bad as I'm making it sound though and I'm learning to let go (read: "shut my internal editor up") a little at a time.


    Seeing that many books in one picture makes me extremely giddy, and those bags are v. cute!

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  49. Thank you for holding these workshops, this one is particularly very useful to me right now, as I'm currently struggling through the middle of my novel. I will try and use your advice and if I may add one of my own, one way I found to get through the middle doldrums is to read / watch something where the middle of the piece of work is anything but boring. By chance last week I was watching a mini series of one of my favourite TV shows and the middle of the week long story was so exciting, it gave me the inspiration to inject some excitement into my story.

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  50. Even more to think about...great post!

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  51. Libby1:17 PM

    Great information, thank you! My middle needs some revving up, big time, I'm afraid :(

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  52. It's your birthday?! Happy Birthday, Lynn!! Hope the next year is a blessed one.

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  53. "No man's land" definitely describes the middle of my novel! Thanks for another great topic!

    DiDi

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  54. Boy, I love your workshops. You're so very good at breaking things down and summing them up in ways that make a lot of sense. You pick good links too. :)

    (Put me in for the BookWish giveaway please).

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  55. Great post. Very helpful information about handling the middle of a wip.

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  56. I'm in the process of revising my WiP and definitely need some of these hints and more conflict.

    BTW, Barnes and Noble has some nice beachy totes this summer - $9.99 when you buy two books :-)

    and Happy Birthday!

    Sue

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  57. Anonymous2:56 PM

    I've been trying to figure out if I am a plotter or a pantser by nature and which would work better for my writing. I am working up the nerve to attempt a full length book and am grateful for your advice. I will be better able to work my way through the pitfalls if I know they are there.

    V.

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  58. Thanks for this. Although I plot out my novels in intense detail, I'm currently mired in the middle too. There's almost too much going on; I keep finding plot threads all over the place and have no idea where they came from. This post was very timely and relevant to my current experience!

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  59. I'm not a writer, but I do so enjoy getting the behind-the-scenes sneak peeks you give on your blog, as well as this work shop extravaganza! Thank you for sharing!

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  60. The first novel I completed, I didn't run into that problem, most likely due to the shortened length (more of a novella after cutting). The current one stalled, partially due to demands on my time cutting in and slowing the process, but that made me take a hard look at what HAD to be done, and I realized that I don't have enough outer conflict. Now I'm about halfway through were I thought I would be, but not where I'm going, so I believe this is the time to try some of your suggestions and plan it out. I've got basic frame to build off of, so I'm hoping for even more of your action advice!

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  61. Gloria3:46 PM

    WOW! Wonderful post. This is going to be so helpful. You do have a way with words. Many thanks!

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  62. The Middle is where I usually get stuck in my novels... Let's try again!

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  63. The middle of my stories suffer. You've given me some ideas on how to combat that. Thanks!

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  64. Christina3:58 PM

    Great article, it's really helpful. The links look good too. I'm going to come back when I have more time and read through them.

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  65. I like the All Hell Breaks Loose approach. It definitely works.

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  66. Great info here. I love this workshop.

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  67. I like blowing things up in the middle, but now you've got me thinking it might be fun to try a mock resolution.

    PS: Thanks for the links to other workshops. I've already gotten a lot of my questions about e-publishing answered.

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  68. Just what I needed to read.

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  69. Great ideas for keeping the story alive. I need more of those mid-book subplots in the Scifi WIP.

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  70. I quite like the blowing up method of blasting away at the middle. I always used to sit down and write, but lately I've been planning a lot more and this helps me get through the middle of a book much easier. Great post.

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  71. Love Kait Nolan's Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle!

    As I noted on her posts, I need to find a happy medium between being a pantser (where I write with passion and depth) and plotter (where the story flows but lacks the passion and depth). I like your "house plans" and the "circuit breaker" but still find I get bogged down in details when using them myself. I think it my perfectionist personality coming through, LOL.

    Another awesome workshop, Lynn, and Happy Birthday too!

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  72. Love this workshop. I frequently suffer from the difficult middles.

    Cheers,
    Erin K.

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  73. Wow, this was just what I needed. Currently trying to work through the middle of one of mine. Thanks so much! :)

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  74. Looks like my first comment got eaten -- love the workshop. Thank you for doing this and happy birthday!

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  75. Another good workshop.

    Middles aren't that much of a problem for me, probably because I am one of those odd people who can write out of order. Hence, if I get stalled on one front, I can always work on another.

    However, I still get a crisis somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 of the book. That is the point where I hate the story and the characters and seriously consider killing off all the characters and be done with it.

    I get over it, usually.

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  76. Ozymandias6:37 PM

    I'm about to enter the middle of my book so these tips will really help. Thanks!

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  77. Wow--this post is hugely helpful. Thanks again, Lynn!

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  78. Lynn I direct all my newbie writer friends to your website because you are the guru when it comes to sharing information. Thanks for taking the time to set this up for everyone.

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  79. Helen7:45 PM

    Adding my name to the hat. Thank you for having this workshop! I read yours with bated breath (of course) but I also enjoyed yesterday's from Panster to Plotter by Kait Nolan, and I want to share that I found two new authors I had never read and whose books I bought today, one of which i read already. Graceling by Kristen Cashore was an amazing book I never would have discovered without this workshop. Thanks!

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  80. I really enjoyed this reminder about middles. I didn't think about bringing a supporting cast to the forefront. On the other hand, my middles tend to be those two pages of notes between that awesome beginning and satisfying end...

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  81. Fabulous tips for getting through the murky middle. My writing productivity slows down considerably when I'm slogging through the middle section.

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  82. Anonymous9:07 PM

    Wow, this lesson couldn't have come at a better time for me. I'm mired in the middle of a novel right now. Thanks!

    Christina Stiles

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  83. Great post! and wonderful ideas on how to work through those dreaded middles. Thanks!

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  84. Thanks for doing this! I haven't quite finished reading yesterday's post (this is one crazy week for me at home) so if I comment twice on this one, just enter me once for the giveaway. Thanks! :)

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  85. Thanks for the advice Lynn. I realize I continue to hit snags because I don't trust myself. A beginning is just that: a beginning--it isn't the end of the story, and the more I project myself into the future b/c of my uncertainty over the present, the more snags I get entangled with!

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  86. Thanks again for the helpful post. I think I'll print everything, and go through it with a big fluo marker this weekend. I haven't had the time to look into the links, but I plan to. Last year I found valuable info on them. Thanks again

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  87. Thanks for a great post.

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  88. The middle is definitely my novel-writing downfall. I'm definitely taking your approach and applying it.

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  89. The middle...that's where I smack my wall. I get a good start....and then I fizzle because I have no idea where I'm going with my story. I usually just have a concept to get started...and that's it. I think it goes back to last week where you talk about planning things out a bit.

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  90. more tools in the toolbelt. thanks.

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  91. This is such great information for anyone having trouble "marching" mid story. I've read many books that lag so much in the middle with mindless conversation that I skip all the way to the end (I know that's sad). The mid story gives me so much grief some times I don't even start a story because I'm wondering what's going to happen to the characters to propel them to the end of the story. I will put this advice in a safe place to look back on.

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  92. Oddly, for me, the middle isn't the tough part. The hardest part is about 2/3 of the way through the book when my mind is trying to work out what the book is REALLY about. That gives me fits!

    Thanks for all the fabulous links, by the way!

    Shannon McKelden
    shannon @ shannonmckelden.com

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  93. I suffer from sagging, or in my world dragging middle. And now I'm suffering from the hope that I can change my ways and enjoy the middle part of the journey just as much as the beginning and the end. I can't tell you how many "could be really good" books I've relegated to the bottom drawer of the file cabinet. The stories I have finished writing lost steam in the middle and now I have some reasons why.

    Thank you for this week of "workshops" and for so freely sharing information and technique. It is greatly appreciated.

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  94. Thanks! This is a lot of good info.

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  95. Thank you, Lynn. I try to use the train of thought, "Enjoy the journey, not just the destination" but faith is hard to keep. Thank you again. I won't be as stuck in the middle.

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  96. I actually like the middles. That's when I can explore characters and relationships, do twisty things with the plot and take a few side trips.

    Yet another reason why I am a novelist (instead of short story writer--though I'm beginning to appreciate that form!) at heart.

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  97. I needed to read this, thank you for a great post. I am there, ready for the middle. I have found myself doing housework to avoid thinking about it.
    My middle has a new note book,ready and waiting for it, all pure and untouched. A friend told me that is how she copes with the middles. She cannot resist writing on new pages, and it seemed to stimulate her into action again. I can only hope...oh and try.

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  98. I tend to rely heavily on the "All Hell Breaks Loose" technique when I need help pushing through the middle. The fun challenge, for me, is then making certain that whatever happens as a result of "All Hell Breaks Loose" really does move the main conflict forward in a unique way and is not simply a distraction or an excuse to write shiny pyrotechnic things. :)

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  99. Anonymous7:23 PM

    I am strictly an avid read but it is so interesting to remember books I have read and see these techniques appear.

    I also did not realize Vickie Hinze as an educator versus a fiction author that I have enjoyed reading in the past.

    Regards, Ruth

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  100. I am a reader, not a writer, but I loved to read about overcoming these challenges while writing. I certainly appreciate the writing process a lot more :)

    cldivineATyahooDOTcom

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  101. I'm not a writer, but it's good to read about writing as a reader, too, because it can help me to realize and express better what worked or didn't (for me) in a book.

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  102. Great ideas for getting through the middle. I'll have to try blowing things up. :-)

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  103. I usually tend to savor the middle of the book the most. The beginning's a lot of setup and the end just kills me because I know it'll be ending soon. By the middle, I've got the charactersv firmly established in my mind and I can actually get a chance to try to figure out what's going on and rethink what's already happened.

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