8th Day, Write or Wrong: Writing the middle of a story

Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
edited January 2019 in Limbo
Long-time difficulty for me. I'm good at beginnings and endings. I get ideas for the middle; but it's hard to put them together, and write my way from the good beginning to the good ending, and have it all connected.

(Actually, in Dorothy Gilman's Thale's Folly, there's an interesting character who only writes beginnings--and they're really good ones.)

Thoughts? Thx.


  • If I wanted to learn how to craft a good middle, I think I'd start reading lots of short stories. I get the impression that the beginnings and endings are (of necessity) very brief, so the middle section becomes most prominent. A beautifully crafted short story is a wonder to behold.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    Short stories are always good as inspiration. I suppose the answer to the "middle" question is to make sure that each part reads like a short story middle - it takes the story on, it has a structure, there is something changed.

    Longer stories are very much episodic - a series of short stories with the same people, each taking the big story on a little.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    That's very good advice about short stories - I wish I'd thought of it myself!

    I too always have a problem with the middle - actually with the bits just beyond the middle, when I've set up the various plot threads and have got them reasonably well developed. By then I know just where I'm going, but haven't quite sorted out exactly how I'm going to get from here to there.

    What I generally do, after a period of futile moaning to Mrs. Andras about how I'm stuck again, is to go way ahead in the writing and complete the closing chapters. When they're done and dusted I go back and fill in the missing bits, making all necessary editorial changes as required - usually not too much needs altering at this point, but consistency does need keeping an eye on.
  • Belle RingerBelle Ringer Shipmate Posts: 23
    I had a related problem, start off well, going great into the middle, past the middle, then saw i had painted myself into a corner. It was a really good book, but hopeless. It blocked me for YEARS from completing anything else.

    Recently I ran across it it, started reading, was surprised to see how much I has written and it was really good, until - sigh. It just wouldn't work, at all. But it was GOOD until then.

    Moral - let things go and tackle the next one. I didn't do that for too long.

  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Writing stories and essays can be analogous. If you are writing both from an outline, sometimes starting with writing a draft of the body first helps to see where it needs to start and where it needs to end.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host, Hell Host
    When it comes to essays and the like, I try to craft the best possible opening and closing. When those are in place, the middle parts seem to write themselves. (YMMV)
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    With short fiction, I try to think of the shape of the story as a narrative arc with an upward-heading sharp curve rather than a meandering middle hollow. It is always the hardest section for me because the pace slows down.
  • Having watched a number of writers writing novels I will make the following comments. What you basically have in the middle of a novel is stories within stories. Each episode is a mini-story that has its own story arc but each episodic story must contribute to the overall story arc. The art is to write them so they pick up a few threads and leave a few threads so they can be fully stitched into the whole. Too many threads and it gets really messy, too few threads and it seems extraneous to the novel.

  • Thanks, everyone!
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