Bumbling Beginnings, Misstep Middles, or Excruciating Ends?

Like any involved project, writing is a process. There are steps to the process: outlines, first drafts, revisions. At times we seem to speed through certain parts, gliding our way merrily through each obstacle with our inner muses speaking sweet plot words to our typing fingers.

Then there are times when our muses speak in drunken tongues, losing our story directions as we slam head first into a mental brick wall.

Which part of a novel do you have the most trouble writing?

Is it the beginning? Are you the type of person who knows exactly what the plot of the story is? All your imaginative characters have their acting scripts ready, standing on stage about to commence with a grand cinematic scene, but the prop boy forgot to get the clapperboard so you could yell out, “Lights! Camera! Action!”

The beginning always seems tough, as fingers hover over the keys, wondering how to start so you can get to the meat and potatoes of the story. Do you find yourself a bumbler at beginnings?

Or is it the middle? You have an awesome first 50 pages. Action. Thrills. Love triangles. Mysteries. Numerous plot arcs to span across the Atlantic ocean to invade Spain. But then, you have no idea where to go from there.

You know what ending you want, but you don’t have a clue on how to reach it with the storyline you have. Perhaps you’ve resolved too many issues too quickly in those beginning chapters, and now your characters are loitering about smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap scotch with nothing else to do. Do you find your bulging middle sagging while you search for a treadmill to get physically fit to run those last miles to a satisfying end? Do you take too many missteps at the middle?

Is it the ending? You have a strong beginning. You’ve followed through with an entertaining middle, and now you . . . don’t know what else to do. You don’t know how to put the plot to bed.

Perhaps you created too many unresolved issues and you don’t know how to tackle them all? Or you resolved them too soon in the story? Your characters are standing in the aisle, waiting for their paychecks for only working half a day, and you are aware that the production accountants will have your head on a spit if you don’t fill those theater seats to capacity with a full-length feature. Do you find endings excruciating to write with no clear picture on how the story should finish?

For me, beginnings can get iffy now and again. They are the hardest for me to write, as I wonder what angle I want to take with it.

Which part is hardest for you?


  1. I struggle with the middles more than any other part - though once I started planning out the arc of the novel more, that seemed to go away.

  2. What about all of the above? I'm kidding of course, though sometimes it feels that way. The beginning is probably the easiest part for me (if there is an easy part). Because I don't plot very much, finding my way through the middle and achieving an "end" is sometimes almost impossible to do right. Nice post, Michelle.

  3. I love how you compare the plot to a film-set, in many ways that's exactly what it is, isn't it? I generally have less difficulty with the beginning, and I tend to have the middle and end fairly fixed in mind, it's all the bits in-between that slam me into that wall. (Sigh..)

  4. For me, it's the descriptions. Even though I'm a photographer, I'm so focused on the action and dialogue, I forget to describe the setting as fully as I should. Oops!

    Great post!

  5. The beginning always flows for me! The middle, not so much. But the end? I can't wait to finish so it flows like the beginning but for a different reason!

    Happy weekend!!!

  6. See, here's the thing. I have the least amount of problems with the middle and end, and I do the least amount of work there for revisions. But that beginning...

    I can get it out fine after thinking it over and getting to the second or third paragraph. But I usually do a big info dump there. In essence, the plots really start in the middle of chapter one or the beginning of chapter two. Those first paragraphs to draw the reader in always has me bumbling trying to figure out the best way.


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