Have you ever been there? Perhaps, like me, you’re there right now. You’ve been hastily writing the exciting start of your novel, powering through as your ideas flood the pages. But then…the middle. Suddenly things slow down. And before you know it, you’re completely stuck. You may have an idea for the ending, but not a clue how to get there. So now what? Here are some things you can try when you’re stuck in the middle of your novel.
Take some time to get to know your characters
Sometimes it helps to delve into your characters a bit more. And not just the main ones, but your supporting cast too. Spend some time with each of them, write a scene in their POV even if they’re not your POV character. Explore their inner thoughts and motivations, their likes and dislikes. It may spark an idea for a plot point and get you writing again.
Write the scenes on index cards
This one is my go to. Write down all the scenes you’ve got on index cards and lay them out on the floor. Seeing the story you have so far can be really useful in terms of thinking of new scenes going forward. You can also write down any scene ideas you may have for the ending, and then look at the gap in the middle and think of ways you can bridge that gap.
Try some ‘what-ifs’
Just chuck in some ‘what-if’ scenarios and consider how your characters would react to them. They can be everything from the plausible to the down-right bizarre. The point is to get you thinking of how your cast would react to a shift in circumstances, from casual to extreme. And one of those ‘what-ifs’ may end up being a plot point that you use to go forward.
Write the back story
A story full of back-story does not always work. It can distract from the main plot. But it’s something you as the writer should know. So write it! Knowing the backstory will enable you to fit it into the novel subtly, in the way your cast talk, and move, and react to things. And again, it may be another way to spark an idea that carries you forward.
Move on to another scene
You don’t have to write in order, not if it’s stalling you. So move on to the next scene you know, even if it’s the end. Part of keeping on track with your writing in enforcing the habit of writing a little every day, and if the only way to do so is to jump ahead then go for it!
What do you do when you’re stuck in the middle? Share your advice in the comments below.