Well, since I’m currently working on the middle part of “Liminal Rites” at the moment (although there is something of a delay between what I write and when it is posted online, since I’m using a chapter buffer), I thought I’d write an article about writing the middle parts of longer stories.
The middle of a longer story can be the most difficult part of the story to write due to the fact that your initial enthusiasm for the story has faded and, yet, you’ve produced too much of it to simply abandon it. Obviously, some stories go better than others and the middle isn’t always too difficult to write. But, even with a story which you are really geeking out about, the middle still doesn’t have the fresh enthusiasm of the beginning or the emotional power of the ending to drive it forward.
Even if you don’t have writer’s block the middle of your story can still go slowly. So, here are a few ideas about how to get through the middle of your story:
1) Sheer bloody-minded determination: This one is fairly simple and self-explanatory. Even if you’re losing enthusiasm, you just keep going out of a strong desire to finish your story. This is probably the most difficult way to get through the middle of your story, but don’t underestimate it.
2) Take your story in a slightly different direction: It can be useful to finish one plot arc or sub-plot in the middle of your story and then use the results of this to take your story in a slightly different direction. This is fairly similar to adding a plot twist but, if it’s done well, then it doesn’t require you to go back to an earlier part of your story and add a few subtle clues about what will happen (if you don’t do this with plot twists, then the reader can feel cheated).
This will probably happen fairly naturally once you’ve started doing it – after all, every action in a story should have results or consequences of some kind or another. Just look at the results of your recently finished sub-plot and think about how they will affect the rest of the story. This can push the middle of your story in a new, and more interesting, direction and you can also use the consequences of your finished sub-plot as the starting point for a new sub-plot too.
3) Add a big plot twist: As I said earlier, adding a plot twist usually involves planting a few subtle clues earlier in your story so that your readers don’t feel cheated (this is known as foreshadowing and I might write an article about it sometime in the future…. Ha! See what I just did there?). So, if you want to add a big plot twist, make sure that you do this.
However, if the format of your story prevents you from going back to earlier in your story and changing a few things – then just look at your story as a whole and imagine what kinds of plot twists could logically result from everything (especially the small things) which have already happened in your story.
Adding a huge plot twist to the middle of your story can make it fresh and interesting again because it divides your story into two shorter (and more manageable) stories (eg: what happened before the plot twist and what happened after it).
4) Take a break: Sometimes you just need a bit of time away from your story – either to just relax or to work on other creative projects until you feel ready to continue your story. If you’re posting your story online, then making a chapter buffer can be a useful way to give you enough time to have a break. But, this probably won’t work with every story – since, if you’re anything like me, then you might like to keep adding something to your stories every day until they’re finished.
5) Remember what made you start writing the story in the first place: When you started your story, you were probably bright-eyed and filled with enthusiasm. You probably launched yourself into your story with a sense of fascination and passion. But, when you get to the middle, this can start to fade somewhat.
The trick is to find a way to remind yourself of the feelings you felt when you started writing your story: Look over your old notes, have the same daydreams you had when you started writing it, listen to the same music you were listening to when you started your story or whatever works for you. Just find a way to remind yourself of what you felt like when you started your story.
6) Keep up the action: One reason why your story might be slowing down in the middle is simply because things are going too slowly or not enough is happening.
This can be boring for both you and your readers. So, just add a bit of action – this doesn’t mean that you have to throw in lots of car chases and gunfights, but it does mean that something interesting, dramatic and/or fast-paced should happen. Just make sure that it fits into the context of your story and seems like part of a logical progression of events.
I hope that this has been useful to you 🙂
Remember every finished story has a middle to it. So, keep writing 🙂