There comes a point when the excitement of starting that spanking new novel has worn off but the buzz of heading for the end has not yet taken hold. This is the mid-drift. It’s a endless flabby wasteland where unwary writers can lose their way and end up marooned on one particular island unable to find the motivation to make a boat.
Or at least, that’s what happens to me sometimes. There are lots of hardened outliners out there who probably don’t suffer this affliction. Planning is, of course, the surest way to avoid the mid-drift. However, after paying lip service to my outline I dive right in to writing. Despite everything that’s been written about middles and structure I still believe that the best way to see if a story is going to work is to write it to the end and sort out the mess later.
One of the things that’s good about NaNo (yes, I had to sneak it in there somewhere) is that it forces me through the mid-drift and on to the end. It’s the push to get off that island and below are some things that can help keep me afloat.
Skip ahead – There’ll still be gaps to Polyfila later, but if you know where you want to go looking ahead can give an idea of how to get there. It can highlight scenes that need to happen in order for the story to conclude.
Fall back – This is dangerous as it can lead to rewriting everything you’ve already written. Or it can result in you constantly revising what you’ve already written and not making it any further forward. Sometimes though, going back can unlock something that will help you off the island, be it character information, or sub plot. Still use with caution though.
Change direction – Introduce a new character, a new plot twist. Discover that somebody maybe isn’t who you thought they were or something happens to change one of the character’s goals, or reinforce it further. You will have to go back and make this event more believable later on, but you will be going back and revising anyway so it may be worth a shot.
Write something else – Taking a break helps. Leave something alone and when you come back to it with fresh eyes it may look very different.
If you’re a girl it may also be worth bearing this in mind, one of my friends recently said, as with all ladies I’m sure your flabby mid-drift is not as much of a problem as you imagine.
Does anyone else have any tips? Are there any outliners out there with tips to share? Leave a comment.