Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What Is It About That Middle?

By Eilis Flynn

For a long time I had the perfect excuse not to finish my latest book: my hands hurt. I had carpal tunnel in both hands and there was an annoying tingling and numbness when I didn’t take frequent breaks. This was very tricky for my dayjob, which requires long periods of using a keyboard and mousing around. So I spent most of my nontingling time with my hands working at the dayjob.

But by the end of 2012, I had had both hands operated on and that tingling and numbness went away for the most part. I was free! Free, I tell you! But I had to get back to that latest book. Because that middle of the book was still there, and mocking me, the way it had been for the better part of two years.

Those of you who’ve ever written a book and found yourself staring at your manuscript can tell everyone else what a big pain that middle is. The premise is set, the beginning is done, and even the end is there, but then there’s the middle – even with the synopsis in front of you, that middle is still mocking you. What is it about that middle? It’s all in my synopsis, and it spins the story, using threads established at the beginning and finishing off at the end. That synopsis worked just fine at the beginning, and there aren’t any expectations of problems for following it at the end, but somehow the middle is just sitting there like a lump.

The usual answer when this sort of thing happens is that your story needs to be reworked. That may be so, but where to start? At the beginning, unfortunately. As a result, I have read and reread the work in progress, trying to figure out what it is that’s gone awry. I know I’ll find it eventually, but it seems to be mocking me still. After a while, I know I’ll have to do with that WIP what a mechanic does with a particularly pesky problem with a vehicle: you take it apart.

Fortunately, I just came into a chunk of free time. I know what I’m going to be doing. I’m going to be playing pretend-mechanic and take my pretend-wrench and unscrew every single plot point and … well, you get the idea.

Neither hand tingles anymore, but they’re achy (now, it's tendinitis). It’s always something. It’s always something, isn’t it?

Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at