Monday, February 6, 2012

The Middle

I saw a twitter post the other day that said a writer wished he knew what happened in the middle of the book.  I couldn't agree with him more.  I find that I run into one of two problems.  Either, I know the beginning and end or only parts somewhere in the middle.  It's a rare case when I know what will happen straight through the story.  Of course the story is ever evolving and changing and the amazing things tend to take place when you aren't looking.

I have been focusing on Book 1 again and I had the same issue.  I knew the beginning and mostly the end, but the middle was rather murky.  I decided that I needed to change perspectives and tell some of the middle from a different character's point of view.  I had a lot of information that I needed the reader to know, but it would have been a bit draggy if the same characters threw out all this description.  I found that when I'm stuck on how to present new info, I should change my character and give the reader a new vantage point.  I was also able to let the readers learn a little about a character that would continue on throughout all the books.  He was able to guide me through some tricky spots and then hand off to a third character that will be equally important.

So I was writing the big reveal the other day and I was having trouble arranging it so that it made sense.  I had all of this information, but it felt like one giant mess.  I decided to slow down the pace a little and instead of having huge descriptive paragraphs from one character, I made it more of a conversation so that the information flowed more easily.  I ended up cutting and pasting and rearranging the info and allowed my character to process it all before hitting her with something else.  I didn't want all of this news to be hurdled at her, but broke it up into understandable chucks and let her drive the conversation.  I am much happier with the result. 

In short, sometimes you have to allow a story the freedom to grow and develop in a way that feels right.  I tried to force the writing a number of times in that section and I hated it each time.  This chapter has been weighing on me for months.  I tried coming at it from different angles but it wasn't right.  I felt so much more relaxed once I had taken my time and let the story unfold rather than jam everything together and give the reader and my character whiplash. 

I was having so much fun writing the other day that I wrote a scene that I hoped would make the first book, but in the end I decided that it should really be used in the 2nd book.  I love writing something that is fun and cracks you up as you are writing it.  I told my son, Thing 1 what I had written, and the King of the One Liners threw out the funniest thing I had heard in awhile.  Thing 1 has a tendency to not only have great witty remarks, but the tone in which he says it would break the most serious person.  I was driving the car at the time and actually considered pulling over to the side because I was laughing so hard.  He's had this ability since he was about 2.  The kid is good.  It was so awesome that I decided to add it to the scene.  This is the kid that was condemn for not having enough creativity to write his own book.  (He is currently considering writing a story about dragons, having moved on from vampires.)

I am grateful to have the support of my family so that I can get through the tough middles and impossible endings.  Whenever I'm stuck, I can always go to Thing 1 and talk about a monster or an odd problem and get a new perspective.  Even if I don't use his idea, I can talk it through with him and find a resolution.  Thankfully Thing 1 takes after me and loves vampires, werewolves and zombies.  (Actually I have to thank his girlfriend for getting him into horror novels, but still we both have a love of the unexplained, and superheros, and Greek Mythology.)  I'm hoping that he doesn't become a serious adult who only watches the news and Masterpiece Theater, though somehow I don't think he will.  I'm hoping that one day he can write a book and I can help him with his impossible middles.

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