author, creative writing, writing

Things to do when you’re stuck in the middle of your novel

Have you ever been there? Perhaps, like me, you’re there right now. You’ve been hastily writing the exciting start of your novel, powering through as your ideas flood the pages. But then…the middle. Suddenly things slow down. And before you know it, you’re completely stuck. You may have an idea for the ending, but not a clue how to get there. So now what? Here are some things you can try when you’re stuck in the middle of your novel.

Take some time to get to know your characters
Sometimes it helps to delve into your characters a bit more. And not just the main ones, but your supporting cast too. Spend some time with each of them, write a scene in their POV even if they’re not your POV character. Explore their inner thoughts and motivations, their likes and dislikes. It may spark an idea for a plot point and get you writing again.
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Write the scenes on index cards
This one is my go to. Write down all the scenes you’ve got on index cards and lay them out on the floor. Seeing the story you have so far can be really useful in terms of thinking of new scenes going forward. You can also write down any scene ideas you may have for the ending, and then look at the gap in the middle and think of ways you can bridge that gap.
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Try some ‘what-ifs’
Just chuck in some ‘what-if’ scenarios and consider how your characters would react to them. They can be everything from the plausible to the down-right bizarre. The point is to get you thinking of how your cast would react to a shift in circumstances, from casual to extreme. And one of those ‘what-ifs’ may end up being a plot point that you use to go forward.
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Write the back story
A story full of back-story does not always work. It can distract from the main plot. But it’s something you as the writer should know. So write it! Knowing the backstory will enable you to fit it into the novel subtly, in the way your cast talk, and move, and react to things. And again, it may be another way to spark an idea that carries you forward.
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Move on to another scene
You don’t have to write in order, not if it’s stalling you. So move on to the next scene you know, even if it’s the end. Part of keeping on track with your writing in enforcing the habit of writing a little every day, and if the only way to do so is to jump ahead then go for it!
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What do you do when you’re stuck in the middle? Share your advice in the comments below.

Until then,
Keep writing,

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17 thoughts on “Things to do when you’re stuck in the middle of your novel”

  1. Hello!
    I really liked this post. I am in the middle of my novel right now and this is exactly what I need haha. Definitely agree that the middle is a great time to explore character motivations, and it helps to plan out or rethink some of the upcoming scenes πŸ™‚ Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! Great tips, Meelie. I’ve been there, and writing the scenes out on index cards like you suggest has helped. Also, doing a plot outline on what I have so far helps put the story on perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some good tips here. My days of laying things out on the floor have long gone – too old to get back up again without a load of groaning and swearing πŸ™‚ I now resort to sitting on a dressing table stool and spread them over the bed. It also helps to read what you’ve written – new ideas will spring up or point to sections that have pulled it in the wrong direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am really lucky with my writing style. I can’t get the words down fast enough, and when I wonder, ‘Where on earth is this going,’ I just carry on writing and I find out. I’m a pantzer, who is very often praised for how meticulously my plots are worked out. Subconscious at work?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks: I am really lucky with it and I love the surprise twists that come up. It is like reading someone else’s novel! The amazing thing is that I generally find the foundation for them has already been laid, while I shrugged and wondered why I had inserted them.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The middle is the biggest challenge. At least for me it seems. One thing I have discovered: With each draft the middle become clearer. It opens up giving us a broader view of where our story is going. It takes time and that’s the hardest part.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I write scenes on index cards, and take time to really explore my characters. Unfortunately, the middle section is the hardest part to write, simple because momentum and motivation drops. The best thing to do, is turn up and writer.
    Great post, M. πŸ‘πŸ˜

    Liked by 1 person

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