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Thread: stuck in the middle with you

  1. #1
    figuring it all out
    Join Date
    Dec 2012

    stuck in the middle with you

    I'm a little over halfway through my novel....and now I'm stuck. I was on a roll and now I'm just staring at my notebook with a blank look. I don't know where to go next. I know what I want to happen near the end, but I don't know how to bridge it together. I've heard some writers write their story out of order. Should I just skip ahead and come back to the part I'm stuck on?

  2. #2
    The Squeaky Toy in the Night. Kerosene's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    I like to think that I want to write every word on the page. If I'm bored writing it, the reader will be bored reading it.

    That said, I plow towards the end. Others are different, but this is what I do.

    I used to get stuck in the middle, long time ago, and what helped me was plotting. Knowing what scene I need to write, what steps I need to take to get to the ending relieved the stress a lot.

    If you want to plot a bit, just ask yourself, what are the steps my characters need to take to meet the climax?

    If nothing comes to you, maybe that's the length of our story. Find a way to attach the ending and roll with it. (It almost sounds like, to me, you're trying to hit a certain word count and need to expand your story to meet it, thus, my point).
    Don't Fear Failure.

    "Look at the sound of all these people on fire. I want to be on fire, do you want to be on fire?" -- Most Roads Lead to Home, Listener.

    "The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night" -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Moose's Avatar
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    Dec 2012
    Ontario, Canada
    That has happened to me on every story I've written. I always get stuck around the middle. The last novel I was working on, I abandoned. The one I'm currently on, I was able to plow through and am now moving towards the ending.

    What helped me get through this time was writing down what I wanted to do for each of those middle chapters. I knew what major plot points needed to happen so I made notes on how I was going to get to that point. It worked because it gave me something to focus on. The problem I had with my previous novel was I had no clue where I was going besides the ending.

  4. #4
    Simplify. frankiebrown's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    This happened to me with my WIP. I got so frustrated that I didn't even write anything for a few days. Then I sat down in a quiet room with a notebook and pen. No computer in sight, so I couldn't get distracted. I knew where I wanted my WIP to end, so I asked myself: How can I get my MC where I want her to be? Not just where I wanted her to physically be, but emotionally and psychologically, too. I wanted her to grow. Because that's what the middle is for, right?

    I jotted down a few ideas. Then I come to another realization. I already had a lot of my middle in the first 20k words. My problem was pacing. For example, I had a supporting character die in the same scene that my MC kills someone. The result was that it was difficult for me to spend as much time as I'd like on the emotional reaction of each event, because my MC was trying to deal with them at the same time. I broke the supporting character's death out and gave it its own scene. Presto: 3k words.

    Good luck
    "To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish."
    Blog last updated 12/7: On Pacing

    on twitter: @frankiebrown25
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    ^Ditto what frankiebrown said.

    Also, nebulous middles are my favorite place to use the "idea combination" trick. I go through my notebook of ideas for separate stories and look to see if any of them would be a logical escalation for the MC's current problem.

  6. #6
    all the feels, ALL OF THEM itsaplane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Virginia Beach
    I'm a big plotter. Some people can just let things flow but I plot. I outline, and make little notes and if I get stuck, I either leave a note saying "well, next scene such and such happens" then go write somewhere else. I had to go back and fill in a few blank spots earlier and then had to go and change things up ... Sometimes your characters just write themselves.

    Good luck!
    Christmas is probably the one holiday I never ever look forward to. Sincerely, the Grinch.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW KSavoie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    SoCal, California
    I pull my Nano technique. Just push through it. If it's crap it's crap. You can always go back later and fix it. Just get the skeleton out.
    Represented by Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency.

    THE OTHER SIDE OF HAPPY (YA LGBT Contemporary) -- On submission.
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  8. #8
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    I'm an outliner, so I always know how my story will end and what twist will keep the middle exciting. It keeps me focussed and stops me stalling.

    I know a few writers who will stop in the middle of a story to outline or re-outline if they get stuck. Have you tried that?
    Website/Blog | Twitter | Instagram (Dog Pics!)
    New avatar by Britt. Still the same teademon.

    Query Trenches: Mecha and Monsters Project (Scottishy SciFi/Fantasy)

    WIP1: DIVIDE (M/M Urban Fantasy)
    WIP2: HEDGEWITCH PROJECT (F/F Urban Fantasy)

  9. #9
    Twitchy Niiicola's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    New England
    I say write whatever is exciting to you to keep up momentum. If that means writing the ending, go for it. The one risk with that is that you might get from A to C, but when you go back and write B, you'll discover that it changes C. For me, sometimes just writing C gives me an idea of what the hell I'm doing and then helps with the middle part, even if it all changes later.

    One other thing that's helped me is to go back and write earlier scenes from the POV of another character -- just as a writing exercise. Sometimes it helps me discover new ways they can drive the plot. If nothing else, it's great for their character development.

    Long walks, long showers, and taking a week off to read beautiful books also seem to help. For some reason, not allowing myself to work on a MS for a set amount of time gets me motivated when I can finally come back to it.

  10. #10
    "Let's write!" Animad345's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    When I'm in your situation, I go ahead and write the climax. It's often a scene I've been really looking forward to getting to. Once I've got it down, I know where I'm heading. Then I can write from where I was before, up to that point. Afterwards, the path to the ending is relatively easy.

    Keep going. Everyone gets stuck at some point. Do what works for you and, above all, keep writing. Maybe work on a short story or a poem if you're still stuck. Trust me, it doesn't distract you completely from the task at hand- rather, it gets your creative juices flowing if you've hit a block in your current manuscript.

    Hope this helped!
    Completed manuscripts:

    HIT THE BREAKS (YA/Mystery)
    BLACK AND BLUE (Mainstream)

    I am currently working on:

    THE TENDER WOLF (Literary)

    Planning to write in the future:


  11. #11
    figuring it all out
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Thanks everyone. I'm doing some outlining, and I also decided to go back and insert some pov from my villian. It's kinda out of my comfort zone, because I'm used to writing in order, but it's getting the creative juices flowing.

  12. #12
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Back where I started
    My suggestion for when you're stuck in the Great Swampy Middle is to add some big event to head towards that is not the climax. That's an easy way to give your middle some excitement
    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.

    Summer's Cruel Warmth, Winter's Gentle Chill: Third editing pass (pink? pen)

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  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Rachael_A's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    If the idea of writing scenes closer to the end sparks your muse, I don't see any problem with skipping around and coming back to the part you're stuck on later. A lot of times when I get stuck it's because I don't know all my characters and their desires well enough to know what should naturally happen next. It helps me to go back to the beginning and do a rewrite, adding layers to each of my characters, and usually by the time I reach the place where I was stuck I know what to do.

    Good luck!
    YA writer represented by Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency


    17 F1RST K1SSES (YA Contemporary) - Harper Teen - June 17, 2014

  14. #14
    Hey driver, to the top of the world
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Sometimes you lose momentum writing because the story itself loses momentum, meaning it starts to lack conflict/tension. When you're writing a scene chock full of conflict/tension, it's easy to have all the sudden written six pages. Whereas when you're plodding along trying to reach another point in the story, sometimes it seems like an eternity to figure out one page. This may not be the case for you, but it's something that I often realize in my own writing. When I'm going too slow, it's often because nothing is really happening in the story.

    Too add on to that, some experts say you must have tension in each and every scene.

    Perhaps this helps. Either way, good luck!
    Code Red - YA Contemporary - 76K (somewhat terrible?)
    Lyrics, Luck, and a Pickup Truck - YA Contemporary - 64K (shredded) (First Chapter)


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