The Great Swampy Middle

Writing the middle section of a novel has to be one of the most challenging areas a writer faces in a book-length project. Guess where I am right now?


My writing teacher, Jack Bickham, called it the Swampy Middle for a very good reason. This is where the story’s going to sink. All the initial momentum of the opening has faded. The principle characters have been introduced. There have been skirmishes between the characters, and now the conflict seems a little old, a little tired. You may know where you intend to go with the story, but you still have to get there. Even worse, this is probably where a little writer fatigue sets in.

All tough things to deal with.

Most of the hazards of the Swamp can be met through plotting:

Have you a big scene planned for the mid-point of the story?

Is there going to be a major plot twist in the center?

Can you tie off an early subplot here with a mini-climax of its own?

Can you launch a subplot here that spikes reader interest?

If you can do any, or all, of these things you’ll have renewed energy to keep going. The story will pick up. There will be no sag, no loss of momentum.

As for the problem of writer fatigue, if you solve the plotting issues your fatigue will probably melt away. Nothing generates enthusiasm faster than knowing exactly what you’re going to write next and being excited about it.

1 Comment

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One response to “The Great Swampy Middle

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