Middles (but really, the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end)

I just finished the end of part two, moving on to the final act. I hate middles. Most middles are the crappy gap between “Man, do I have a SWEET idea”, and “I know exactly how it ends, too!”

I interviewed Tanya Huff in Edmonton a couple years ago, and she said that books should be roller coasters where the first 25,000 words provide all the momentum for the rest of the book. I think that’s really there’s only a couple places where the pacing feels more like the rush of going uphill where the G’s reverse and you feel as though God’s thumb is pressing you down.

Middles are horrible soggy things that can’t stand up on their own. They’re like the digestive tract between the two ends of a four-legged creature. Vital to keep things whole and has an important role, but no one has ever said, wow, look at the gut on that horse!

So I don’t write middles. I write the stuff that ends the beginning and starts the beginning of the end, but at no point is anything ever stationary or consistent long enough to be called a middle. It’s a sprint between the everything is so much worse than we thought and your character being pushed to his very last nerve, about to give up everything despite everything. I can’t recall how many times where I’ve read a novel for critique and never not once do the characters ever feel like they’ve had it with this ride, they’re going home and you can keep their share of whatever it is and shove it up somewhere protected by a sphincter or two.

After you’ve mangled the bodies and stripped the flesh from the bones, then you can start building your character up. And bang, you got yourself a section between the beginning and the end that I would like to read.

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