NaNo 2014 – Beating the Murky Middle

Saturday marks the halfway point for all you NaNo writers out there, that means you should be nearing or hopefully passing the 25,000 word mark in your new drafts.  It’s usually around now when the story starts falling apart and writers get frustrated. It even has a name, the murky or muddy middle.

There are several reasons this can happen.

The first of these reasons is poor planning. Now I know that there are lots of people out there prefer to create as they go, and there is no problem with that. Many best sellers out there do the same thing. This becomes a problem when we reach the middle and need to know where the story is going, so we can figure out how to get there. Without an ending there is no goal to be reached and the characters simply don’t know what to do.

Another reason the middle gets murky is when there isn’t enough conflict. The main character has overcome the initial conflict and it’s not quite time yet to build up to the ending climax in an interesting way.  There has to be some problem that the character needs to overcome in order to be ready for the ending conflict.

The last reason has nothing to do with the story, but with the writer.  It is typically around this point in the story where the excitement of the story has worn off and the writing starts to feel like work.  The momentum slows down and self-doubt creeps in. We start wondering why we even started the project in the first place.

There are a few things that you can do:

In your story –

  1. Introduce more conflict! Kill someone off, get lost, get stuck, get in trouble, find a way to challenge your character.
  2. Change the setting into something more intriguing. Drop your characters into a lion den, a mad scientist laboratory, or a zeppelin and see how they react.
  3. Write from a different character’s point of view, perhaps your villain. What do they have to say about the situation?
  4. Go to Random Topic Generator and write a scene about the first prompt that comes up, if anything it will give your character something to do.  Use your creativity to make it work in your story.

As a writer –

  1. Write somewhere else.  In you have a laptop or tablet, grab it and go somewhere new. A change in your writing atmosphere is often all it takes to get the wheels turning.
  2. Challenge yourself to a writing sprint – set the timer and go for it.  Many times writer’s block is not because we are stuck but because we are reluctant to write what needs to be written.  We worry that it won’t be good enough so we put off writing about it.
  3. Enlist a friend, ask them for some advice. A fresh perspective can be all you need to take off once more.
  4. Take a break and read a chapter from a favorite book. Our creativity needs time to recharge and reading is a great way to do it.



About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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