Writing Novels #3: The Middle

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Writing Novels #3: The Middle

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Personally, I find that the middle of a book is the hardest to write. I have seen quotes from many more well-known authors stating the same thing, as you can see in the picture to the side.

There's so many reasons and ways for an author to despair as they reach the middle.

1. You didn't create enough plot points and are stuck trying to figure out where the story should go next.

2. You're much too excited for what you have planned for the end or the climax, that you are speeding through the middle and your writing is rushed and sloppy.

3. You got bored with this story after writing the beginning chapters, so now you have no motivation to finish.

4. You have a bunch of filler chapters that are just there to make your story longer and prolong the climax.

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Don't feel bad if any of the above points have happened to you, because I have experienced them all as well! Will we be able to avoid these bumps in the road that so many writers get stopped by? We can certainly try.

To avoid hours of staring at the screen, trying to figure out what should come next:

-Outline. If you have a problem with this, as I used to, outlining may very well be your best friend. That way, before you even begin to write, you can see if your story needs more plot points and chapters, and you can come up with ideas while the inspiration is still fresh instead of when you're bored of the story and drained of ideas.

So once you've outlined your story, which I covered in the past chapter, take a look at it and try to see if you have enough smaller plot points before the climax, or between the climax and the end. If you aren't sure, take a look at a published book in your genre and (by looking at the chapter titles) try to guess about how many different plot points they have.

For example, if I were to pick up, say, Pride and Prejudice because I was writing a romance novel, I'd open up the book and see what? Not just Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meeting, fighting, then falling in love. No, there's chapters in there with her cousin, with her best friend, with her best friend marrying her cousin when Lizzy turned him down, her sister liking Mr. Bingley, but then Mr. Bingley moves away! Her sister Liddy runs off with a soldier, oh, but she is found and they are married to cover up the shame. There are chapters with grand balls where Lizzy learns Mr. Darcy's character and we learn Lizzy's.

You see, it's not just about the two main characters. What other characters do also will affect your main character, so if you are stuck for plot points, have something happen to the character's best friend or family. From the examples I gave above, though, you can see just how many things and plot points actually happen before Mr. Darcy even confesses his love to Lizzy. See if your book has as many smaller plot points before the climax.

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How do you avoid rushing through the middle because you are excited for something near the end?

-If you have a problem with this, maybe you should try writing out of order. Write the scene you are so excited for first, then write the rest of the story to build up to it.

If you must, though, go ahead and get the story written, no matter how rushed it is, because you can go back later and add details or slow it down. It's best to write the first draft with your heart, and then revise it with your mind.

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How do you avoid getting bored in the middle?

-Ah, well, I can't really say you won't. But here is the thing: Just about everybody does. Really, I've never heard of a single writer who was filled with inspiration and motivation throughout the whole time they were writing their novel.

Most successful writers say that writing is a painful process, and that you must push yourself even when you are not inspired. If we waited until we were inspired, we would never get books written.

So push yourself. Determination and perseverance are two key factors to being a writer. Remind yourself of how excited you were when you started this book, recall those daydreams you had of someday getting this published. Look up quotes from authors and see that you aren't the only one with this problem (Oh goodness, no!) but don't get distracted! This is only to motivate, not distract. I have several pictures saved to my computer with motivating quotes that help me get started writing.

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Motivation aside, though, if you're bored with the story and not so much the writing process, then my guess is the reader will be bored with the story too. So do something drastic. Make something big happen, and twist it all around. Reveal a secret, or introduce a new character. Anything to get the spark going again.

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How do you avoid filler chapters?

-Well, this is actually pretty much the same answer I gave for the first question. Outline ahead of time so you will have no need for filler chapters.

Try to avoid them, because most of the time the readers are able to tell that you're just trying to make the word count longer.

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If you have any different problems with the middle and would like advice, please ask! I'd love to help.

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