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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Indie Life / Writing Wibbles

Welcome, Indie Lifers, to the free-range insane asylum! Don’t forget to hit the linky at the end, and see what other indies have to say about their travails, triumphs, and tips this month.

Muddle in the Middle

Let’s pretend a shiny new writing idea just happens to come by when you don’t have any other pressing projects going on—or maybe you’re just burned out on your current WIP and need to pound on something else for a while. A pivotal scene, perhaps the climax, is just itching to get out of your head and into your computer or notebook.

You start working on this new project, and a couple weeks later it’s taking shape. The beginning looks good, and the ending is awesome! If only that big gap in the middle would magically fill itself in… and now, the real work begins.

This happens to me enough that I have a name for it: the muddle in the middle. If I plotted out the whole thing to start with, I have a series of blank scenes in Scrivener with a title and maybe a paragraph or two describing what's supposed to happen in one or two of them. If I pants it… same hole, different (or no) name.

Usually, logic and time (and persistence) are enough to straighten out the muddle and get a story finished. Logic is a great tool to keep handy—simply ask yourself how does your hero get from Point A to Point B? and remember that very few paths are arrow-straight. It’s not only the journey that’s important, it’s how your hero grows on that journey. There’s a central conflict to win, after all. Even if the hero has what’s needed to begin with, like Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz (the movie), she still has to learn the how or why.

Time is another helpful tool, especially if you aren’t on a deadline. Sometimes, just closing the project window and walking away is the best thing you can do for a story. Let your subconscious chew on the plot, and sooner or later you’ll know what to do.

Now it’s your turn.
How do you work through that muddle in the middle?

Thanks for reading, and check out some of the other Indie Life writers this week!


  1. It's ALL hard - the beginning, the middle, the end... I just keep keeping on, ignoring what's going on in my worried hard, and putting one word in front of the other.

  2. I usually go one scene at a time. Or that's what I've been doing recently. When I reach the end, I take a moment to brainstorm how the next scene will go, make notes, then close the WIP. By the time I get back, the scene has been mulled around a bit and developed.

  3. I can totally relate to this. Usually the endings are very clear, and the beginnings are reasonably there, but the middles... That's why I'm fussing with an outline this time. It may not get rid of the holes, but I'm hoping it will make the edges of the holes easier to see.

  4. This generally happens to me in revisions. I see I've got an OK beginning and end, but there are a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies in the middle, or weak parts that need improved. Actually, I'm going through this right now! Brainstorming and long walks help. I've got a dog, so at least I have a good reason to go for a lot of walks.

  5. I'm lucky in that I haven't hit a muddled middle yet. I have other strifes and worries - that not enough is happening, that there aren't enough short term payoffs, that I'm getting sicker and will fall behind - but in both recent novels I've known how most things had to end and so was busy seeding and threading. For all the guff they take, the Pixar philosophy of writing everything knowing an ending that will pay off for the audience has yet to do me wrong.

  6. I'm also lucky I haven't hit a middle muddle either yet, and hope I never do. I think it's because I do a bare bone plot of the whole thing so I have a direction in which to move, then I know what is to happen in each chapter just not how it will happen - so I then plot out each chapter as I go - just bare bones and then allow my fingers to take me on the journey from a-b. ^_^ - It's the editing that comes after than finds any plot holes for me.


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