Middles are like macrame

It's all about the weave.

I love beginnings.  That fresh love affair with your new idea, with the dating and the flowers and exchanging glances full of promise for what comes next.  I love endings, which are something like riding a bike down a steep hill while dodging whipping branches, bouncing over rocks and trying not to fall off and die.

Then there is the middle.  Middles get a lot of bad rap.  They are prone to sagging and wandering off-course.  They take up the greatest proportion of your book.  Middles are one long slog, a painful, step-by-step marathon from here to there. Middles are where novels get abandoned.

But I love middles the most.  They don’t have the excitement of the ending.  They don’t have the breathless delight of the beginning.  But they are intense.  I never find myself working so hard as I do when I’m writing a middle.  There’s no time to be lazy.

I’m in the middle of my novella at the moment, and I am working hard at keeping it trim and direct.  This means that I am thinking about the story constantly, thus I am prone to losing things and burning dinner.

Middles, to me, are like a big macrame project.  You get hold of this subplot in one finger, and then you grab that subplot and tie them off, then you pick up some character development and weave it through, and then you grab the main plot in your other hand, and don’t forget the theme, that needs to show up as a splash of colour, and then…

And then you realise you’ve left a whole entire subplot dangling about three scenes ago, and your hands are full, and you wonder if you can reach it with one toe and weave it back in without the whole carefully constructed design unravelling.

Middles are frustrating and maddening and so much hard work.  But I love them.  And at the end of the middle, you get to reward yourself with a stunning climax.  And if you’ve woven your middle right, the ending really does write itself.

You agree with me, don’t you?  Say it with me now: I Love Middles!


27 thoughts on “Middles are like macrame

  1. I l…, I lo…., I can’t do it! :)

    No but seriously, I know what you mean. I like how the middle allows us to flesh out our characters more deeply, and their relationships with each other. Certain things come to light, and you type away and think to yourself, “Cool…”

  2. I adore when I FINALLY reach the middle, ’cause after that, I have a flow. This book might ACTUALLY get written. I just gotta make it to the middle and it’s all so much fun from there. I write beginnings well, but there’s this moment when a book kind of goes up one step from the entryway and enters the main house (the middle). It’s that step that gives me the worst work. :scowls:

    I LOVE middles.

  3. Pingback: I think I can « Nancy Drew Too

  4. Nope, I don’t like middles much. Or rather, I don’t like the ends-of-middles that flail about and keep me from getting to the ending. Which is all of them so far. (Yet another Novel Virgin for your thread, sorry to say.)

    But I’m pretty sure the only way to get around my own issues with the Middle is just to let that macrame get all tangled up and messy, catching my perfectionism in its net, and then finish the weaving on the rewrites. ;)

  5. Yes, I love middles. I should say middle, since I’ve written only one novel and am still making revisions. The beginning was (is) a challenge for me as a writer. I think I may have trimmed down all the excess leaving bare-bone interest-grabbing captivity for the reader. Maybe. The middle takes longer, but without it, my novel would be nothing. The end wrote itself, as you point out. Although while it wrote itself, it needed a little help getting onto the paper neatly and distinctly. Great post and written in entertainment style. I enjoyed it. Blessings to you, Merrilee…

  6. Me too. Smack in the middle of my first middle EVER. When I got lost in my middle (last week), I went back to the first, which I was told was a mistake. So I’m back in the middle taking one slow step at a time. I’m just worried that my middle will piddle out before its time for the dashing end.

  7. I love middles! Beginnings and endings are the flashy parts, but middles are where a story settles into its stride, and you realize juuust how many balls you’re juggling. :D

  8. Uh — I’m stuck (not stuck-stuck, but moving sloooowly) in the middle of my NaNo writing right now, but I’ll ::whisper:: it anyhow: I Love Middles!

    And maybe shout out that I agree they are frustrating and maddening as well.

  9. Oh yeah! If you put it so eloquently, I have to agree with you. Nothing is as hard as the beginning, and the end is kind of where you start in your mind, isn’t it? But the middle is a special place.

  10. I love your description of beginnings and ends and it is so true. The excitement of the new and the thrill of writing the final scenes but, macrame analogy or no, the middle is still by far the hardest part. With your permission I’d like to take this blog to my writing workshop on Wednesday and let you have their feedback too.

  11. Haha Lovely post! How true–middles are the most important pieces because it’s so easy to lose the pulse of the theme or the plot just as we write them.

    Oh, and yes, “I Love Middles” :)


  12. I’ve never written an ending, and consequently I hate middles. I’m sure my opinion will change after I’ve completed a novel, though, so don’t take it personally. ;)

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