Though it might seem a little backwards, writing the end of a story is a lot easier than writing the beginning. And writing the beginning is even easier than figuring out what comes between a story’s beginning and ending. Why? Because the writer always seems to know the end result, but often struggles to figure out how to get their characters there.
You probably have a decent beginning and a really kick-butt ending to the story you’re working on right now, but it might be that the middle of your story just isn’t coming together the same way. It happens to a lot of writers, and we know it’s not only frustrating, but discouraging.
Here are some solutions to help you conquer your middle and finish that story.
Solution 1: Outline your major plot points
You might not want to spend any of your writing time on outlines, but the bigger a story gets, the easier it is to get lost. Sometimes it really does help to see it all laid out in one place. An outline doesn’t have to be anything fancy: just sketch the main points, like you would if you were writing a paper or drafting a proposal (but it’s more fun, right?).
Once you have your main ideas in front of you, you can start to break them down into smaller points and try to figure out not only where you’re stuck, but how you’re going to move past it and fill in the gaps. The answers you’ve been searching for may have been there all along; you just couldn’t see them before.
Solution 2: Start at the end and work backwards
You know how the story ends, usually, or you at least know where you’re going to leave your characters and storyline, whether you’ve come up with a killer cliffhanger (if applicable) or not. Ideally, you know how it all starts and how it all ends. So all you really need to do is work backwards.
If you’re stuck in the middle of your story, you don’t just have all of the beginning and all of the end written: you probably have pieces of the middle, too, they just haven’t come together yet. Start from “the beginning of your end” and see if you can backtrack to figure out, one by one, the events that lead up to the story’s climax.
Solution 3: Keep the story moving
You might have hit a midpoint and started to feel stuck because your characters are wandering around a figurative forest. Let’s think Harry Potter for a second. How much of Deathly Hallows did they spend, literally, in a forest? But it wasn’t boring, though, was it? Because regardless of moving from clearing to clearing, they were always finding answers, asking more questions and hiding.
As best as you can, pack the middle of your story with action. Always keep your characters in motion. Are they working toward achieving a goal and have to overcome smaller obstacles along the way to get there? Are there big questions that branch off into smaller questions that can be answered as the story moves along? Everything leads up to the climax in a small but equally important way.
Middles are tough, and they might end up being the last part of a story you actually write. But it’s like taking something apart, laying all the pieces in front of you and trying to figure out how to put it all back together again. Once you have that ah-ha moment, you’re on your way to the finish line with no problems at all.
Well. Sort of.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
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