I knew this was going to happen. It was looming there like a dark cloud on the horizon, and now that I’ve reached it, it’s releasing its gloomy rain all up on my biznas. I’m talking about the murky, muddled middle of Soulless. I knew it was there, I knew that it sucked, and now that I’ve reached it in my editing, I’ve had to face it head on.
What do you do with a story that falters in the middle? I know from editing that I love the beginning, and I know that the ending is pretty solid and full of interesting twists and turns, but the middle part drags significantly. Will it be enough to turn readers away? Is there something that can be done to boost it up? I’ve been asking myself that a lot, because it seems important to establish the journey and the traveling, but I feel that it’s so boring and pointless. It calls to mind a quote I thought I saw somewhere, but, of course, I cannot find it now, that said something along the lines of not all adventures being battles and excitement, that a good deal of it is riding and boring travel.
I remember thinking, yeah, just because it’s part of the adventure doesn’t mean we want to read about it, and now I’m struggling with just how to make the travel a little more interesting. When I was first writing Soulless, I threw in a lot of encounters with both monsters and villages and other traveling parties, which I could also use to develop the world, but they’re rather dry and feel pointless. I’d hate to have them steer my readers away from actually finishing the thing, so I think my next biggest challenge would be making a good balance. It’s important to show a little bit of it, but how much is too much? If I condense the encounters, will they feel like I’m trying to squeeze too much in? Will cutting those scenes shorten the book too much?
Anyone else out there feel that the middle of their books tend to drag? What do you do to try to turn it around? Would a calmer middle of a book with a fairly exciting beginning turn you off from reading the rest? I don’t think there’s much changing the middle of Soulless right now, but it could be useful for future plotting.