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The Dragging Middle

Any writer who has written a novel knows what this is and if you don’t know what it is, you will know it after this article and during NaNoWriMo when they’re halfway through the month and feel themselves starting to lose their momentum. It happens to every good writer. Some just know how to push through it better than others. So what exactly is the dragging middle?

Well, I akin it to that long road trip I take with my family to Chicago every year. In the beginning it’s all exciting and you’re ready to get started, but halfway through, a long car ride with five siblings who won’t shut up and parents who play their music too loud so you can’t hear yours gets to you, not to mention there’s no internet on the road. It’s the same with writing. Once the excitement of the beginning is over and the writer begins to get into the complexities of the novel,  it can get frustrating and less exciting because in the middle, execution is everything and we have to make sure that the middle ties into the conflict we presented at the beginning and is actually going toward the climax that will be at the end because like the trip to Chicago, sometimes it seems like you’ll never get to the end, and it’s these time you just want to say to hell with this novel and in the case of November, “to hell with NaNoWriMo.”

 But do not fret dear writers. There was a mirage of things that helped me get through the middle or that scene in the middle that just wouldn’t come out right and stopped me from getting to the end. Here are a few tips.

1) Don’t ad unnecessary words for the sake of a word count.
I know this. I’ve done it and it really has slowed me down at times. You see that 50k requirement or whatever happens to be the goal and it just looks like you won’t makes it, so you drag out a couple of scenes to help you out. That’s wrong I say. If the scene doesn’t want to be drawn out longer, let it be short and move on. We’d be surprised how long our novels actually are without doing that and dragging out scenes like that slows down the creative process. I find that the pace I write determines how fast the ideas come and dragging out a scene takes creativity from what I could be using for the rest of my novel.

2) Let the writing flow.
I don’t care what anyone says. Writing takes on a mind of its own when it wants and we writers have to let it do whatever gets the job done. We may want to write one thing, but the setup of the story takes up in another direction first or maybe never goes back in the direction you want, and it’s okay. You’ll find going with the current is much easier than trying to write against it and gets you through your ending without so much hassle.

3) Pace yourself. No rushing
This one seems obvious, but good pacing will keep you on track in a novel, knowing when to slow it down, speed it up, but not rushing to get to the end because there’s this big battle scene or confrontation at the climax that you want to get to. It improves the flow of creativity when you give your novel a good pacing and doing so paces the writer. Don’t rush to the end. If you feel the need to do that though…

4) Go ahead and write that scene you’re rushing to.
Who said you have to write your novel in order? I don’t think that a rule of NaNoWriMo and it shouldn’t. If you want to get to that awesome confrontation at the end, then by all means save your novel open another file or do a page break and write it. The page break actually works better because when I get back to my middle, It means I have something to write up to and it’s fascinating to write that one scene and see the story meet up to it. It’s like taking a hard test sometimes. When you’re stuck on questions 20-25, but have the rest of the test to go, you skip the question and go back to the stuff you do know to save time and then come back at the end to correct which leads to my final tip…

5) Just write the story
Sometimes the dragging middle is just a result of the fact the we writer’s are nitpicks of our own writing and the scene isn’t quite coming out the way you want or there’s something about it that’s really wrong that needs to be fixed. If writers did that all the time, there would be many published authors because the writing would never get done. Listen, you’ve got thirty days to write a novel in NaNoWriMo, and even if you didn’t, doing stuff like this is a waste of time because I can almost guarantee that scene might not even make the cut or it’ll be changed completely anyway. So just keep going. That’s why you go back and revise later. Focus on writing the story.

So in conclusion, the dragging middle is a straight up pain in the but hopefully these tips will help the perfectionist that are writers (because perfectionist is just another word for writer) get through NaNoWriMo without feeling stress or inadequate or just make it to the end of the novel period.

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