The Beginner’s Writing Guide to Writing the Middle
- Don’t give up. This is when it gets hard. Appreciate the suck. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
- Write straight through and tell the whole story without worrying about word count. It is easy to focus on wanting to reach a certain number of words or pages, but don’t think about that now.
- Pay attention to small things that can bring your characters to life. Does your Main Character (MC) have a certain way of speaking? A habit they aren’t aware of? A nervous tic?
- Show these characteristics with action. If your MC is nervous, have him tie his shoes too tightly. If a side character is smart but pretending to be dumb, have her turn away and pinch the bridge of her nose before she turns back around with a vacuous smile.
- Pay attention to atmosphere and setting. Where are we? Period of time? Time of day? Future? Consider how to use the environment to emphasize this through dress, tools and equipment, animals or plants, and types of speech. This is where your story becomes rich.
- This is the time to double check tense. Are you staying consistent with past tense or are you all present tense? It is easy to get lost.
- Soggy middle is a real thing. Are you bored? Because if you are, your readers will be too. Change up pacing, slowing down or kicking it up. Usually, kick it up.
- How? Soggy middle typically means you haven’t given your characters enough to do. Kill someone. Hurt someone. Throw a big monkey wrench at your MC and step back and see what he or she does to handle it. The story moves when your MC is challenged and challenged some more. Don’t let him or her get off easy. Make them miserable. They can have some kind of resolution at the end, but not in the middle. Now, they suffer.
- Thinking that your manuscript is the worst thing ever written in all of time? Take a break. Do something else you love that takes your mind off writing all together. Yoga? Skiing? Go for it. Underwater wrestling? If you can breathe, no problem. Give yourself a maximum of three days, but push the writing aside and do something that requires your concentration. Your book or story will marinate in the background.
- Still stuck? Write the ending and work backwards. Let your story come together from both ends. Or, write a pivotal scene and work from that. No one says you have to write your story in chronological order.
- Bonus tip if you are still stuck: Get someone else to read it and find out what questions they have. Do they ask, “What happens next?” Or, do they get stuck on why your MC stopped on the side of the road when it was obviously a horror flick waiting to happen? Let their questions propel you.
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