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The Murky Middle

Banes at 12:00AM, July 27, 2017
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Thursdays with Banes - The Murky Middle

A good way to put together a story is to figure out some essentials, first - Elements of Character, Plot and Theme, and Building some World and all that. We've talked about these things around here a lot, and we'll prolly continue to talk about it!

Many times it seems like the Beginning and the Ending are pretty solid for a lot of writers. If you're doing a longer story and DON'T know your ending, at least somewhat, it can be easy for things to peter out about halfway through, or a little less.

So having a solid beginning/inciting incident, and a solid-as-possible ending (at least in outline form) is, in my opinion, a really good idea. And if that outline isn't enough to keep a complex plot together in your head, maybe writing it out completely is a good idea.

But what about that pesky MIDDLE section?

It's easy to get stuck here. How do we get from that beginning bit, with our intriguing questions surrounding our compelling characters, to the ending where we resolve it all in a satisfying way?

One technique I learned is to think about the FUN scenes. What are the scenes you WANT to write? Create those!

Is it the scene where the new lovers have their first fight?
Where the Hero's long-lost sister appears at the door?
The learning of a new piece of technology or spell in your sci fi or fantasy story?

It could be a jillion different things - and it's your choice.

I found that this was a cool technique when I tried it way back - it made me think about what scenes I actually WANTED to write!

This can be a motivator - and they are usually spread out throughout the story. These special scenes are a draw for you to keep writing, and a lot of them will probably be a draw for people to keep READING!

To be honest, as much as I enjoyed this process when I tried it, I didn't finish the story I was working on - I think that's because I did it without figuring out my beginning and ending first. This technique seems best suited to that murky middle.

But now that it's popped back up in my memory, I'm definitely gonna use it on my next story. I'm doing it now, in fact! So I'll see yuz later!

-Banes

comment

anonymous?

Banes at 7:28AM, July 28, 2017

I fell into the same thing when I tried this last - a handful of scenes but nothing around them. Stitching them together comes next...but I think having a beginning, an ending, and some idea of what story you're trying to tell has to come before this technique for it to work. Still not sure; I haven't had time to do it yet, haha.

Banes at 7:26AM, July 28, 2017

The fun-but-non-story-related scenes often do get cut, yeah - but it's a way to get oneself writing in a slump! Or at least that's the theory. And it depends on the writer - what some writers consider the "fun" scenes or the scenes they really want to do ARE more story-essential scenes.

bravo1102 at 11:48PM, July 27, 2017

So the cool scenes may have been a way to get me to compose the rest of the story but they often end up on the cutting room floor.

bravo1102 at 7:18PM, July 27, 2017

Also I end up trying to salvage good lines by shoe horning them in where they really don't belong but it kinda works and it's such a good line...

bravo1102 at 7:13PM, July 27, 2017

Going in and writing the exciting scenes usually ends up with me having a pile of cool scenes that don't fit in the finished narrative. Great ideas but they're orphans and extraneous to the story I end up with.

Banes at 8:55AM, July 27, 2017

thanks! Writing the middle parts of stories has often left me lost and confused!

KimLuster at 7:09AM, July 27, 2017

Excellent! I've dwelled on this many time - thinking I was making middle scenes too long, bogging down... Then overcompensating and making the middle more epic and interesting than the beginning or ending!! It's certainly something we shouldn't just brush off - worthy of though for sure (as your article adeptly points out)

Banes at 6:34AM, July 27, 2017

I agree with you both, and that's the way I tend to think. This approach is supposed to be the opposite - what are the "treat" scenes for you as a writer ? It's aboat creating the scenes you're excited about. While having an ending and beginning in mind helps, this is about escaping from that structure thing a bit. I didn't explain it that well, I reckon ...

ozoneocean at 2:42AM, July 27, 2017

Fun scenes are a good thing but also having a lot of what they call "tent pole" scenes that hold the whole thing up: they're sort of landmarks. They don't have to be structurally important to your story, they can be fun like you said, visually cool, stand outs. Or they COULD be structurally important, like "this is where the hero meets the love interest", "this is where things go wrong", "This is where we have a training montage" etc. SO you write TO and From those scenes, It makes it really easy to fill in the space that way,

bravo1102 at 12:24AM, July 27, 2017

This is where that hero's journey and world creation plan come into their own. Think of it as a journey from point A to point Z and maybe back again. Start off in Bagsend and end up at Mount Doom in Mordor. Well how does he get there? That's your middle, traversing that space. It doesn't have to be a physical trip of Frodo and friends, it could be s voyage of self discovery through time. But knowing the beginning and end is important and then mapping out the road inbetween whether you use a real map or just a series of events and that is your middle.


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