Hi ! Im sorry, my question is going to be very vague and I'll understand if you do not want to answer it. Here it is : I always have beginnings, or very basic concepts, but I never know how the story will go between the beginning and the end (when I have one...). Like, I've been writing for nearly ten years and I came up with hundred of idea but I only found what happens in the middle only two times. Can something help me ? Sorry again for this vague question but I'm like... Desesperate.
I think that this is probably a pretty common problem, and one that I deal with myself a lot of the time. It’s easy to start off with a great idea, it’s harder to persevere through the middle of it and get it done, right?
To me, it seems like there are a few different factors that can make it really difficult to get through the middle part of a story (aside from the difficulty in itself of just sitting down and writing the whole thing, of course), so I’ll go through a few of the main sticking points in writing that I’ve come up against.
I have a beginning, but then what?
Figuring out how to continue a story once you’ve gotten past the ‘brainwave’ section of the idea can be really hard. If the first part of the story came to you so naturally and easily, shouldn’t the rest of it just fall into place?
Well, not really. At this point you’ve probably got to look at what you have so far, look at where you want to get to in the end (if you know that) and figure out the most satisfying path to take to get there. The middle part of a story is often the hardest part, you have to expand on all the great little concepts that you’ve thrown together and you’ve got to figure out how to make them all make sense.
Sometimes brainstorming ideas will help get through this, just to figure out what could possibly happen:
- What is the protagonist trying to achieve?
- What is the antagonist trying to achieve?
- What would be the simplest solution for these things?
- What is the biggest mistake the protagonist could make?
- What happens if the antagonist succeeds?
- What outside forces does the protagonist have to contend with in addition to the events of the main plot?
- What could tempt or force the protagonist away from achieving their goals?
Figure out the simplest path from start to end, and then throw a big old roadblock in your protagonist’s path. Make them question their own motives, their own goals, make them question whether they’re the hero that’s really needed here.
Essentially, lay out all the possible things that could happen, and then pick the ones that make the best story/ the highest drama.
Too many great possibilities?
While having too many ideas is often more of a ‘good’ problem to have, it can also wind up getting you stuck just as badly as not having ideas, because when you get right in there in the middle of the story and you realise that of the two or three or five GREAT concepts that you’ve got on your hands, only one or two of them can possibly fit in and have the story make sense, it can be heartbreaking to have to pick and choose.
If you’ve got too many ideas on hand, don’t stress. Pick the one or two that are the MOST exciting/ dramatic/ fun/ heartbreaking and go with them. Don’t throw away the other ideas – put them in a ‘for later’ folder and use them in the sequel, or in another story altogether.
It doesn’t feel ‘natural’, or I want the rest of the story to flow like the start did:
Sadly, most of the time there are going to be sections of every story that are difficult to just sit down and write. It’s going to feel like pulling teeth, but the only way is to figure out what you need to happen, and how you’re going to do it, and then sit there and type until it’s on the page. Maybe it won’t be pretty, it won’t be as fun as the start of the story was, but once it’s done it can be edited until it shines.
You can’t edit a blank page, and you can’t finish a story with only a beautiful opening.
Can’t think of what might happen next?
It happens, doesn’t it, you write out a fantastic starter and you’re just as excited as anyone to see where it goes and then it just … doesn’t. You’ve stalled out in your own story and it’s horrible.
Go back and look at your characters, at your world building, look at the direction that it was all going in before you stalled and work on fleshing things out – a lot of the time in this situation you’ve gotten ahead of yourself and the reason that you don’t know what happens next is that you’ve dived in headfirst without really getting familiar with what you’re creating. That’s okay, it just means you have to go back and do the work that you skipped in the beginning.
If you’re attempting to jump right into longform stories, like novels or full length scripts or comic scripts etc, and finding that you just can’t get through the whole thing, why not scale it back?
Try writing short stories, ten minute films, single page comics, to hone your craft and exercise yourself in being able to go through the beginning/ middle/ end stages of your form.
As well as that, the feeling of finishing something, even if it isn’t a ‘full’ length work, is very rewarding, and as well as the practice, it can give you the motivation to get back into the slog of working on a longer piece.
I hope that this helps, and please feel free to ask if you have a more specific question.
Some other posts that might help you are:
Post about plotting [HERE]
Post about speed plotting [HERE]
Post about three act structure [HERE]