Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Smashwords book sale - last week!

First, we have reached the last few days of the Smashwords sale. All my books are half price and the short stories are free. This means you can have five novels and five shorter works all for less than $5. Only a few days remain on the sale, though! Leap in and get them now!

I am coming perilously close to putting out the first ACOA print book. This is a story for 9 to 12 year olds called Joey Mousekin's Tale. I've been working with Adobe InDesign CS5 to lay it out, and I have to say that even just learning a few minor pieces to the program has been great. I can't wait to do some of the other books as well. Next up is figuring out the Joomla section for selling online so I can do print books and such through it.

I am in the last quarter of Summer Storm and will have it done no later than this weekend, though I will give it at least one more read through. I think next up might be something from the science fiction stack. I'm not certain yet. I've considered doing a break from the rewrite/edit stuff, but it does seem to be going well, so I think I'll keep at it. I just need to make a decision on the next one.

What else? Lining up ideas for NaNo so I can get to work on outlines. Yay! I have an urban fantasy, and epic fantasy and a science fiction idea. Someone suggested romance in chat. I told her no and this is the reason. I wrote one book that I thought would be romance but I started out wrong with the guy as the POV. I introduced the female character and it was going well. Then I kind of took off in a different direction and forgot her. When I reread and found what I'd done, I decided there was only one thing I could do to save the story. I killed her and had him blamed. Kind of destroyed the romance feel there.

So no, I will not be doing romance again. I get the feeling I'm just not cut out for it.

I have way too much stuff to do. Really. I want to do the outlines, finish the books, learn more about programs and read several dozen books. Right now.

But it's after 2 in the morning, and I suspect I'm just about done for the day.

I've gotten quite a bit done, though, despite the 1001 things more I want to do!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Zette's Take: How outlines work and when they don't

Outlines are not for everyone

I won't tell you that every single writer needs to work with an outline. That would be as ludicrous as any other 'you must do this' rule that you've read about writing. However, at the same time, I don't believe anyone should say 'never' to some tool in writing. You never know when something that otherwise doesn't work for you is just the bit of help you need to get through a problem story.

Outlines are not a magic bullet that will fix a plot for you. A person has to understand plot and storyline before they can create a reasonable outline. Making an outline can help you understand structure better by laying it out in simple pieces, but you still need to create those pieces to make it work.

I used to write without outlines, but I found something interesting when I tried them out: My plots became more coherent, the storyline had more depth, and I needed far less post-work.

Seemed like a good change to me.

If you have trouble getting to the end

There is one group of people who should seriously consider trying outlines. I can't begin to tell you the number of people I talk to every week who say they won't finish their current story. They have any number of reasons, from the story is now boring to they found a much better version of the same thing.

Whatever the reason, stopping before they've finished this story is not going to make the next one better. I'm sure this is hard to understand when you are facing a dying story on one side and a bright shiny -- SQUIRELL! -- story on the other side. All you need do is close one and start a new one, right?

Except for a problem: You are as likely to drop the next story too, when you reach a spot you can't work out. That's right when you'll get a bright new idea, too. You are giving yourself excuses to quit and not to work harder to fix the story you loved so short a time before.

A very basic outline can help get your through this problem. An outline is not set in stone directions you MUST follow. An outline is a roadmap showing you where you start, where you think you want to stop, and some of the key places you want to visit along the way. Just like any real-world roadmap, it doesn't tell you who you will see, what you will say, or what surprises you might find along the way. You want certain things to happen. Here is the place to line them up so each event leads naturally to the next.

An outline/roadmap also doesn't preclude road blocks, detours and side trips. What an outline does provide is a basic itinerary for your character to follow and a place to work back to when the character gets lost.

And creating an outline does not mean you have told the story, any more than studying a roadmap means you've taken the trip. These are nothing more than directions for getting to certain spots you want in the story.

If you lose track of storylines

This brings up the 'lost storylines' problem some authors face. If they have no idea where they are going with the story, they are apt to wander off into the wilds. Having an outline can help. This doesn't mean simply giving the main character direction, though. Quite often writers have lesser characters who start taking over the story or go off and do things elsewhere -- and the author simply loses control of the entire plot.

Sometimes this can lead to an exciting story the author hadn't seen before. There is nothing wrong with tossing aside the outline (or rewriting to suit the new direction) when you actually see a better story forming. However, there are a few things you need to test before you leap off in the new direction.

(1) Does this new path lead to a reasonable ending? That's your first question. Can you trace from this break in the original story plan a path (no matter how murky at the moment) all the way to the end of the story? Can you see how the events you now plan to follow will make a more satisfying story for the reader?

Oh yes, don't forget that reader. While it's important to write for you as the first reader, it's not unwise to think about how others will see the story, too. Are you going to rewrite the opening to fit this new ending? Or is this only a better path from where you started? Will it be a satisfying ending? Will the new trouble you see really be more exciting than the previous problems?

(2) Is this really a better story or is it just a different story? The truth is that by the time you get a ways into your story, you may let your muse start to wander and find some new shiny idea when you really don't need it.

This is where you have to start training yourself to focus. You need to do so, whether you work with an outline or not. Focus on the story at hand, and not go kiting off to some other piece, even with the same characters. If the new story is all that good, jot down the basics. Hold on to it and let it grow and be ready when you finish this one. Don't drop this plot for a new one, if you are not completely and entirely certain it will make the much better storyline.

Don't lie to yourself, either. Put both ideas out there and look them over carefully. Be wise in your choice, grasshopper. It will either move you ahead in your writing life or set you back again.

Create better pacing

One of the best things an outline can do is help you create better pacing. You likely have a number of interesting events you want to happen. So you write them up -- but because you don't have any idea of the plan of your story, they're all bunched together in the start and you don't have anything more to say.

In a story, the power and impact of big events is made better by build up to them. The best way to do this is to know what is going to happen and start putting in hints, smaller problems leading to larger ones, and leading your characters towards the trouble.

Presenting one huge problem after another, and with no respite and no change of pace, the problems themselves can lose impact, no matter how important they might be. The reader needs breathing space between the larger events. That does not mean you need to lessen the overall tension of the story, though.

Even in the 'Mountain and Valley' method of plotting -- where high conflict is followed by lower, relatively quiet times -- you can still have things going wrong, and small problems leading, inevitably, to the larger ones.

With an outline, you can see better how to pace your events. You want things to go from bad to worse, with the worst of the problems at the end. You want the earlier events to lead to an ending where the main characters have no choice but to face the biggest problem of all. This final confrontation cannot be put off or put aside because the events have reached a point where there is no turning back. All the problems throughout the story have led the characters (and readers) to this point and all that is left is to make the final choices on how to deal with the trouble.

When you are laying out even a simple outline, creating this sort of timeline for events is not difficult. If you have multiple Points of View and more than one Main character, this can also help you make certain the characters are all getting equal time and facing equally important incidents. How about the sidekicks and other lesser characters? The love interest? Haw you built their storylines up with equal power to reach the same end?

Fixing small problems with mini outlines

You might get stuck at some spot in the story, with no clear path of exactly how to next, even if you know the general plan of the story. Sometimes all you need is a quick outline of the next few events to see how things work at this specific spot in a story. In those cases, take the time to jot down the events. Move them around, add and subtract things, until you find a sequence of events that will get you through this section.

These mini outlines are nothing more than brainstorming with notes so you can track the yes/no ideas you get. You are talking to yourself between brain and paper, and arguing out the ideas. Sometimes getting them out of your head and onto paper/screen can help to make the problems easier to focus on.

Remember, this is not school work

Outlining is not as difficult as it sounds. The most important part to remember is that this is not school work. You don't have to lay out a perfect outline and worry that things are perfect. No one is going to grade you on the work.

Sometimes all you need is a few lines per chapter:

Chapter 1: Summerfield getting local reports about vampires. So predictable. ? days before Halloween and the vampires show up. Power flickers. Tessa reports magic and heads out. Storm hits, Julia sends others home. Summerfield offers to take Pam home.

Chapter 2: Relatively quiet ride taking Pam home though weather turning worse. She admits worries, two young daughters, only her to take care of them. When she's home, Summerfield talks to his sister about setting up trust fund.

Chapter 3: Weather turns to ice as heading home. Off ramp and place to wait. Call from Julia, tells her Pam's safe, no worries. Tessa arrives in cat form, startles him. Tessa changes and explains growing problem.

This is a barebones version of what is going on, but it does give direction from one chapter to the next and tells me where the MC is. I could add bits and take them away, move things around. Jot down bits of dialogue I don't want to forget. I can also layer in problems and characters before I write the first draft. For instance, Pam is having problem with soon to be ex-husband who used to work with Summerfield.

Other outlines might be nothing more than designating an MC location and time so that you can keep the timeline from getting fouled. There's nothing worse than realizing one character knows something before it happened, but it's easy to get those kinds of problems if you write out of order or you go back and add in material in the wrong place.

How to write outlines

You can do outlines on notecards, which makes it easy to move them around and add in new scenes. You can do them on paper, on computer, on special programs like SuperNotecard, WriteItNow and Scrivner. You can write them in whatever style works for you and at whatever level of detail you want.

There are no rules.

Sometimes writing down notes for a new story while finishing up another one can help to fight that 'I want something new' feeling which can draw you away from finishing one piece. Don't overdo it if writing too much takes away the joy when you start the new story. Notes on characters, world building and some basic story plot is all you need.

Don't be afraid of outlines. They aren't the horrible things you were forced to do in school. Outlines are another tool writers can use when they need them, as long as they're willing to get over their high school homework reactions.

(And yes, I did write an outline for this post, as well as an outline for the overall series of posts!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Books on my nightstand: Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour/1

Russ and I met in a bookstore where we had our first conversation while looking over a History Book Club catalogue.

We were doomed from the start.

My house is filled with books. They take up every corner where we could fit a bookshelf, and when we ran out of room, we bought the small house next door, where Russ moved most of his books and created his own office when he was still doing freelance work.

My Goodreads and LibraryThing collections number over 3,000 and the lists are not complete. There are books everywhere, both fiction and nonfiction. Historical works take up the largest part of the nonfiction sections and they range from prehistory to modern. Fiction ranges from mystery to science fiction and fantasy, with more than a few classics gathered here and there. We own two collections of the Great Books of the Western World from Encyclopedia Britannica because the newer edition diverged considerably from the earlier one. (I much prefer the Aeneid from the early collection and refused to give it up.)

You get the idea. A lot of books.

The bedroom holds several hundred books. They're stacked, two deep, on the wall to the left of the bed, going from floor to ceiling. This is mostly science fiction and fantasy, and there are days (and nights) when I grab a book at random and start reading. There aren't many newer fiction pieces here because those are mostly back on the shelves in my office where they are easier to reach. This is the older treasure, with books that move from front to back and up and down the shelves.

However, this is not what is on my nightstand. There are three special items there.

The first I'll tell you about is generally the last thing I read at night. If I can't get right to sleep (which happens often), I will grab my trusty old HP Pocket comp, which holds several hundred of my works in .doc format. I read through various works, deciding what will be the next things to work on for editing and publication, sometimes jotting down notes on the HP for specific things to change. I have found reading like this, with the lights off and everything else for the day done, has helped me focus on the work. I'm pleased when the stories can still entertain me.

Another important book item on my nightstand is my Nook. Yes, I too have gone electronic and I love it. I buy books from many places like Closed Circle (C. J. Cherryh, Jane Fancher and Lynn Abbey), Smashwords (my page there) and, of course, the Barnes and Noble store (yes, also my page). Right now I'm fighting my way through Mansfield Park and wondering why no one has hit Fanny upside the head a few times. I remember now why I had never been able to get through the entire book before, but I am determined to make it this time. The Nook goes with me from place-to-place through the house. I spend a lot of time reading it while on the exercise bike. I shove it in the purse when I leave the house because you never know when you're suddenly going to have a few minutes and having such handy entertainment is wonderful. There are many other works on the Nook, including some nice, inexpensive historical pieces I've picked up at Barnes and Noble. I love my Nook.

There is one last piece of reading material on my nightstand and this is something I truly treasure: The Cambridge Ancient History I: Part 2, Early History of the Middle East. I have already read the first book and I'm about half way through this second one. The books in this set are expensive and I have wanted to own them since I first read a few from the library. New, they run about $300 each. I've been buying them used, in fairly good condition. The first volume I bought came from the estate of a Nobel Prize winner with a rather seedy reputation. The second two (I only own three out of the fourteen or so volumes) came from the estate of author Chaim Potok.

It's an odd feeling to be reading along and see the soft pencil marks on the edges of some paragraphs, denoting where this great author had made note of something. I believe -- given the timeframe and the things which drew his interest -- that this was work for the Wanderings nonfiction book, which I have had on my shelves for years and read when it was new. I find myself as fascinated by what he noted as I am by the book itself.

I only read about five pages a night in this book. I want to read more, but I can't afford to buy the books as quickly as I would read them. They're wondrous, filled with esoteric information about pottery, house and temple shapes and place names that are older than the language of the historic people living in the areas (indicating an earlier race, leaving behind names of locations sometimes, with little other indication of their existence). How could a writer not adore learning these things and be inspired by such pieces of information as this about very early Egypt:

Although the texts are difficult to understand one cannot fail to be stirred by the breadth and sweep of the early conception of a bright celestial afterworld in which the dead become the indestructible stars.

Or, in speaking of the area of Transcaucasia:

A special feature of this culture is the care bestowed on the elaboration and decoration of hearths, such as one could expect in this bitterly cold country where the snow often lies for six months on end.

The books are huge and scholarly, but surprisingly readable. Yes, there are some parts that are over my head because I am not trained in archaeology or in the history of these areas. That doesn't mean I can't still learn and be inspired. So every night I sit down in bed, put the lap desk in place and read five pages.

I always learn something new. It's a wonderful way to end the day.

If you want to get to read about nearly twenty other writers and find out what's on their nightstands, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.

Be sure to read tomorrow's post by Sharon Kemmerer!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Zette's Take: How (and why) #write100 works

From For Blog

For several years, I've been using 100 word leaps while I'm in chat on Forward Motion. I found these work best when I am enjoying the company in chat and still want to get some writing done. They also work very well when I'm doing other work, but have to wait for emails or such to come through.

Writing 100 words is not difficult once you get the knack of dropping into a story and focusing on the little section right there. Write a bit of dialogue and some nice description and you can have 100 words in no time.

From 'For several years' to 'in no time' equals 100 words. Are you going to say that's too much to do? Too difficult? It may take you little practice to get used to it, but there is nothing particularly hard. You can concentrate on a little tiny piece of the story.

You can use #write100 (that's a Twitter hashtag, if you aren't familiar with them) for writing story, notes, world building and anything else writing-related. And of course you don't have to be on Twitter to do this. I block out 100 word leaps throughout most of the day while I'm doing other work, and then settle in for longer writing stretches later in the night.

Twitter might, in fact, be part of the reason you aren't getting a lot of writing done. So use #write100 to help while you are there. Read the Tweets by your favorite people. Write a couple replies. Then go #write100 and come back to Twitter for some more fun and conversation. Do that ten times and you'll have 1000 words.

#write100 (or 100 word leaps when not on Twitter) can be very addictive for busy people. Those who have young children have found this way to work far less frustrating than setting up a big goal for the day and being constantly interrupted and unable to reach the count they want. The smaller goals are easier to accomplish and help generate the feeling that you are making progress because . . . well, you are.

They can also make use of otherwise wasted time. The hardest part for many writers is to be able to write without a lot of preparation. However, if you can get into the knack of doing this, it will pay off in more written material to work with.

Concentrating on just 100 words can also help to break through a writing block. Don't look beyond the scene you are working on. See where you are and add 100 words to it. Description is good. So is dialogue and movement. They're just words. Write them down. You can change them later. The trick now is to get moving. Do 100 words. Then do another 100. Don't push yourself.

This won't work for everyone. This won't work every day. However, if you want to take advantage of a few extra minutes here and there, or work while you Tweet or Chat, the 100 word goals can help.

Have fun!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The need for change

From For Blog

While Russ was home last week, we moved my computer and a few other things out of the back office that I love so well and into the larger, more open area in the dining room/living room area.  There were two reasons for this.  First, I had been staring at those same walls, bookcases, etc. for years now.  While I would change a few things around here and there, the room is too small for any major changes, like moving the computer desk.  I felt that I needed a change.  Part of that change turned out to be a lovely new monitor when mine unexpectedly died.  The timing was good, despite not having a lot of money.  If it had died while he wasn't here for those four short days, I would have had to wait for him to get one and ship it to me.  Not a good thing.  I ended up with a lovely Vizio monitor/television.  I am VERY happy with it.

The second reason I moved out here is because the air conditioner is in the window in the dining room.  Heat, humidity and I are not good friends.  I was suffering through some 100f plus days with the office in the 90's before this.  Being here with the AC is a true blessing.  And the bird feeders are just outside the window, as anyone who checks my Picture-a-Day-Blog can tell.

With the change of office, I have been working on a change of attitude, too.  Not anything really outlandish, but enough to get me moving down a path of less annoyance.  Among things that have changed is Vision: A Resource for Writers moving from every two months to quarterly.  I was barely getting one issue done and it was time to start on the next one.  I most definitely was not getting any of the back issue stuff out of the way that I wanted to do.

I am also closing down my Live Journal and posting everything to the Joyously Prolific Blog after this.  There is no reason at all to have both.  I also have a couple older Blogs that I'll take down soon as well.

Consolidate.  Focus.

Will it make a huge difference in my life?  Probably not.  Zaphod is still here on the desk.  I am still working on the same stories as I was before -- though at least I feel as though I am making some progress on them.  I am looking at my Never Ending List From Hell and finding fewer things there already.  I don't feel as though I am perpetually behind on work, which made it difficult for me to focus on the fun of writing and editing.

Writing is my profession.  Yes, I have to do other things to pay bills.  And I spend a lot of time on sites that help other writers.  There are things I have to do, things I want to do and things that have been getting in the way of everything else.

A few months ago, by pure happenstance and chance, Russ (through work) got a copy of CS5 Extended.  It went on the main computer, which is to say on the one I work with.  I am in the midst of teaching myself InDesign, which I adore so far, even though I haven't gotten very far.  I do play quite a bit with Photoshop, of course.  Whenever Borders sent Russ a huge discount coupon, he'd buy another of the wonderful 'Bible' books from Willey Publications.    I have four of them -- InDesign, Photoshop, Flash Professional and Dreamweaver -- and I plan on the Illustrator one if it turns up as well.  I have every intention of working my way through each book and learning all I can about the programs.


Because I love learning new programs and these have some fantastic tools for Indie Authors like me.  And, of course, this was the sort of thing that kept getting pushed aside for everything else.  Well, right now I have the InDesign book sitting in front of me.  I've written over 1k today and I'll do more.  However, it's time to get back to work on this stuff.   I'm going to have to reread some sections already.  I don't want it to get any farther away from me.

It's time to start working at more changes!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Zette's Take: The Middle of the Story

From For Blog

The dreaded middle

How often have you heard the horror of the 'middle' in tales from writers?  They reach this hideous, deadly swamp where far too many stories die, wandering aimlessly through the muck and mud.

It isn't the characters who get lost, of course; it's the authors who lose their way.  Worse, they head into the swamp -- the middle -- without a clue of where they want to go by the other side. 

If you want to survive the middle of the story, you must have a plan.  To have a plan you must know where you are and where you want to go.  Both influence what you do in the swamp.

Past introductions, before wrap up

There are two factors to consider when you look at middles.  The first is to realize this part of the story sits between two important story pieces.  You are past the opening where you have introduced the characters and world and begun the inciting events which you will play out in the rest of the story.  The second is that you are before the end where all the troubles have to be dealt with and the fates of your characters handed out to each in turn.

So where does that leave the middle? 

Wide open to a lot of really fun stuff.

Before leaping into the middle, you need to make a decision about where you want to come out when you've worked your way through the swamp.  This is not a set-in-stone story location/plot spot or whatever, but rather an idea of the 'feel' that you want by the time you get there.  If your story is heading towards a tragic ending, then building up that feeling of hopelessness is going to be an important part of the middle.

If you want your characters to go into the end of the book with blazing outrage over the injustices that have happened, then obviously you're going to have to build on those injustices in the middle. 

A romance will have a different approach than a thriller.  A science fiction novel will have different avenues open than a mystery.  However, there are certain aspects of the middle which can apply to every book.

Quest and Mystery

In the middle, you have room to do things that move you a bit off the settled plotline.  Does that sound odd?  Think of plotlines as roads.  Every now and then it doesn't hurt to take a side trip and explore, as long as you come back to the main road and get where you're going.  And sometimes a character hits a problem and a detour.

It's easy to come up with distractions and problems.  Life is filled with trouble and little things can lead to big troubles.  If you are writing an epic novel, think in big terms.  Put mountains in the way.  Destroy food supplies.  Poison the horses.

If you are writing a romance, bring in bad weather, an old rival, a mistrusting family member, a missing dog, etc.  With a mystery (cozy or otherwise) you can do all kinds of odd things.  Put your detective on the wrong path with a misunderstanding.  Have someone else solve the crime (though, of course, they didn't really).  This is really the easy stuff and they are likely all things you've considered in one way or another, and this is the stuff that builds middles.

Nearly every story is a quest of some sort.  The quest part comes in because characters want something.  They are pursuing something no matter what the genre.  If your character does not have any wants, then he or she has no goals.  Without character goals, you have no story.  Looking at those goals is the best way to come up with middle of the book adventures.  Thwarted goals and subverted goals (your character deciding to settle for less than what he or she really wants) are, again, excellent middle fodder.

There are mysteries everywhere.  Why, how, who?  Those are pieces to remember in the middle as well.  This is the spot where misdirection can lead the readers to believe they have figured everything out, only to have it all change again.

Make mistakes and correct them

Your characters can, and should, make mistakes.  The middle is a wonderful place for this to happen.  Always keep in mind how everything that happens in a book has to relate to the rest of the book.  Nothing can stand completely alone.  No matter what you come up with in this section, always make certain the trouble ties back to the main story.  Don't waste any of your precious story space on material that does nothing but bring up the word count.  Don't annoy your readers.

One of the best questions you can ask at any point in a story is 'What can go wrong?'  This doesn't mean every problem must have end-of-the-world consequences.  Little problems lead to bigger ones.  While fixing a leak here, a dam bursts there.  While dealing with the love interest's problems, the sidekick falls into a dangerous situation.  The MC deals with government officials and something local goes wrong.  The hero finds the dog, but the kid disappeared while going out to look for the mutt.

You get the idea.

Do not forget the antagonist while you're in this area.  Things can go wrong for the bad guys, too.  However, there's something else to consider when you start working on the opposite side of the story.  As you head into the final chapters, you want your antagonist to have the upper hand.  The ending 'battle' should look more difficult than it did at the beginning of the story.

This doesn't mean everything has to go right for the antagonist and bad for the hero in the middle.  A few unexpected gains can help to balance the increasingly bad situations.  Keep the reader in mind as you weigh hope and loss as well as the problems you want to face at the very end.  Too much of anything can start boring the reader.

Failure of nerve or commitment

There is one more important aspect of the middle which may be helpful.  Many characters, pushed into a situation for which they may not feel adequate, may face a failure of nerve.  They may even leave behind the commitments they have made and try to escape what they see as something they cannot control and are not strong enough to face.

Note the word 'try' there.  In real life, people abandon families and jobs all the time.  You might even write a book about someone who takes that route.  However, you cannot irrevocably do so in the middle of a novel which has promised the reader something else entirely. 

With that in mind, you can still work with this idea.  Your MC (or maybe even your antagonist) can decide, for whatever reason, that this is not his or her battle.  And don't take battle too literally.  A person might fight a battle to win the person he or she loves, which is not the same sort of battle as the guy fighting corruption in city hall or the invasion of aliens.  The battle, however, is what is central to the story:  The actions taken to achieve the character's goal.  Different characters have different goals, though for a story they should be related so that when you get down to the end, all your major characters are on the same page, so to speak.  How they got there, and what paths and problems they faced, is up to you.

How many problems?  How few?

How long should the middle be?  It depends, of course, on the book.  The middle should be longer than the ending, though, if for no other reason than you don't want to bog the end down.  Once you get everyone on the path towards that inevitable ending conflict, you don't want to drag things out.  The same is true about the middle, too.

No two books are the same.  I could tell you to start with small problems and build up to the big, final one, but this plan may not work for you.  There is no single answer you can apply to every story you write, let alone something which can work for all the different authors out there.

On the whole, though, you want things to build towards the final confrontation.  A few ups and downs won't hurt along the way, as long as this fits into the feel for your story.  You want the reader to feel that the final conflict is the biggest trouble of the story and that every action -- whether it seemed so at the time or not -- led to this final problem.

The final trick for getting through

One last thing may help you get through the middle of the story with less trouble.

Stop thinking of it as the middle, as though that were something apart from the rest of the story.

A story should flow from start to finish.  I know there are many people who advocate using a three act system (or even more than three), but sometimes tis makes a person think in terms that will not help them.  They can see the opening act of the story and then can see the closing act, but what happens in the middle remains a dark stage. 

If you start considering your novel as a single, flowing storyline and how events build on each other rather than stand alone, you might find it easier to build situations throughout the story.

In the opening you introduce us to the world, the plot problem and the characters.  In the end you have them face the problem that was made inevitable by all the events that led up to it.  Those events are the important part of the story, and they are most often encountered in the middle.  We learn the true depth of the story problem along with their secrets and their weaknesses.

Make the middle work for you.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  You don't have to keep anything that doesn't work, and you learn even by your mistakes

Think of it only as the story you want to tell.Always keep that in mind.  And always have fun.