A lot of people have frustration with the ending of a story, other the beginning, many of us struggle with both. But what seems to plague me more than anything else is the middle section connecting the beginning of a story (first 305) to the ending of it (last 50%).
That twenty percent in the middle that's supposed to bridge the two pieces together, to me, seems tough to make interesting, relevant, and satisfying.
Not really, because I have the exact same problem!
Though for planning my WIP, I had two good beginning scenes, and an ending figured out. Then I decided to move one of the two beginng scenes to be the middle, the turning point in the story. I doubt that's a global solution, but it worked in this case.
Well, would it help to think of it in the traditional 3 act structure? First act, second act (which has a pretty dramatic peak/failure) and then the third act climax when it all comes together, followed by some quick falling action/tying up of loose ends. The 3rd act is likely in mind already, if you're saying you don't have trouble with the ending. You probably already have the inciting incident and/or the first act climax figured out since you say the beginning doesn't cause you much trouble, but do you have the second act coming to a peak?
It has helped to organize some of my thinking, and it works even in short fiction. I've also started to notice it in other novels I've read. very interesting. Some even make it easy by dividing the book into three parts!
Sounds like your definition of the "middle" is slightly different than mine. The beginning, for me, is the first 50-100 pages, time enough to get to the first threshold. The end is the last 50-100 pages, so the middle is the biggest part, somewhere around 60 percent of the novel. It's the build-up for the climax, and has the most potential for developing character growth and potential.
Not that that really matters. What works best for middles, I think, is when you follow the causality of the opening. Certain events were sent into motion. How do your characters react? How do they react in a way that makes them reach their end goal? What challenges do they need to overcome to get to who they are by the end. In other words, sometimes it can help to go to the end, think about how your characters change by the end, and then figure out how to get them there.
If things start to bog down I find that often means my characters aren't being active enough. THey are merely going with the flow. I think back to who they are and consider what action they would take. I then ask if they've been pushed far enough to actually take that action. Maybe they need something else; if so, I give it to them. Or give them some other related conflict to deal with. If they need to reach a particular maybe someone important dies on the way. This causes the MC to react in a desperate way and kick the starship into overdrive. It breaks down, he has to overcome his fear of space-walking in order to fix it. Okay, stupid example, but you get the picture.
I dunno if this helps at all. Are there any specific things that stop you?
Thanks, guys. Now, on a side note, why does it say I have 2 replies when I clearly have three? (not counting my own which may have just messed up the phenomena)
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The "middle" is what the story is about. The meat of the story where you learn, solve, love and risk is the middle. Think of it as a roller coaster: The beginning is the hook where you get familiar with the conveyence; the middle is the dangerous drops and flips which lead to the climax (thrills); the end is where you are brought back to the norm (or state of safety) and are let off.
The climax, for me, is the hingepoint where the middle meets the end.
I usually suffer much the same problem and have spent some time thinking about it.
I think Philip Pullman put it better than I did
quote: You know which page of a novel is the most difficult to write? It's page 70. The first page is easy: it's exciting, it's new, a whole world lies in front of you. The last page is easy: you've got there at last, you know what's going to happen, all you have to do is find a resonant closing sentence. But page 70 is where the misery strikes. All the initial excitement has drained away; you've begun to see all the hideous problems you've set yourself... That's when you'll want to give up. When I hit page 70 with my very first novel, I thought: I'm never going to finish this... But then stubbornness set in, and I thought: well, if I reach page 100, that'll be something... And 100 is only 30 pages away, and if I write 3 pages every day, I can get there in ten days ... why don't I just try to do that? So I did. It was a terrible novel, but I finished it.