History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Stuck in the Middle with You

Car stuck in the mudLast week, I talked about beginnings. Today, I’m thinking about what happens when you get stuck in the middle of the story.

Sometimes, my stories grind to a halt around the middle when I’ve been writing for a while. Pinpointing the reason for this isn’t always easy, but for me, at least, I often find it’s because I don’t know what happens at the end. So sometimes, getting stuck in the middle means that I need to look at my outline more closely, and see where it’s falling apart.

Or, more likely, I need to make an outline. Because I can occasionally write a story without an outline, but in general, I need to lay out what’s going to happen over the course of the story to keep myself from getting stuck. I’m usually pretty good about having at least a broad strokes outline even for short stories, but sometimes, I convince myself that I don’t need one.

Nine times out of ten, I’m wrong.

If you’re not someone who outlines, and you find yourself stuck in the middle of your story, you may also need to figure out the end. Or, if you already know the end, you may have to take the time to figure out how you get from where you are to where you need to be. In this way, outlines (no matter how sketchy) can be a lot like a roadmap, which keep you from getting stuck in mud halfway up your wheel wells.

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