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!