The Muddle of the Book
Since having my first novel published over twenty-five years ago, I have always been quite confident writing beginnings and endings. But it has always been the middle (the muddle!) of the book that makes me nervous and causes me the trouble.
Sometimes when I get to the middle of a book I totally panic and think, “Oh, no, I’ve got a novella, not a full novel here! I’ve covered so much, how am I going to write another half of a book?” That, however, is never the way things end up, so I don’t know why I have to fly into that frenzy on a fairly regular basis. I just have to trust my main characters.
At that point in the story, I often turn into a control-freak in my “real life.” It is as though I could control the many plot and multi-character “balls I am juggling” in the middle of the book by straightening up my office or the entire house. Granted, that rearrange-my-immediately-world is good for a clean house which too often gets short shrift at other times, but it really doesn’t help the book—except maybe in giving me more time to think about the story when not staring at the computer screen.
For example, Down River, a romantic suspense novel due out next month is full of action in the first half. The heroine falls (or is pushed?) into a raging, icy river in Alaska. Her former fiancé jumps in a kayak and goes after her, risking his own life. But once out of the river, they face dangers in the wilds and in their own painful past.
But halfway through the book, they return to what is supposedly civilization at his rural wilderness lodge. I knew I needed to transition quickly into the dangers they faced there—for someone is out to kill the heroine.
It’s that middle of the book transition that makes me want to jump into a raging river myself. It’s always my characters who save me, even as they push me back into their swift-moving story.