No, I’m not Jewish, but made you look, right? You’ll notice the alliterative title… They often work well to get readers to read more. Keep that in mind. Meshuggenah means crazy or nuts, in case you don’t already know, and I have to say that my middle certainly did make me a little whacko.

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...
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But I’m not talking my waistline, I’m talking about the middle of my various books. Those are the parts I sweat over because if people lose interest in your work, the middle is probably where it will happen.

I know that I want to introduce my main character(s) early and at the end of the beginning, introduce the problem. The sooner the better. In fact, if you can do that in the first sentence, all the better. But make sure that’s part of your beginning, not your middle.

The middle makes things worse for your character, so for example, let’s talk about the Wizard of Oz‘s middle. In the beginning, we meet Dorothy, the main character and the problem starts when she’s sucked up into a tornado and depositied in Munchkin Land.

Think about all the things that happen to her in the middle. She learns that she can’t get home without the help of the Wizard of Oz and goes off to see him with her little dog, Toto. She meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion. She gets to Emerald City and the Wizard sends her off on a mission, and it’s scary. Her friends have to save her from the Wicked Witch of the West, AND then destroys her. Lord! All that from a little girl from Kansas.

What keeps you reading? You like Dorothy and want to see her get her wish of returning to “Auntie Em.” If you were separated from your parents as a child, you can probably relate. But think about it… There would be no story if Dorothy woke up in Munchkin Land and one of the little folks said, “Oh, no problem! Just click your heels together and you’re golden.”  Right?

Well… when I first started writing fiction, the idea of getting so much typed into my computer for my first novel was thoroughly daunting. I knew I wanted to write a novel, but didn’t have any idea where it should go or how I’d structure it. The mere thought of the complexity almost made me quit. Really. Writing a book is hard work!

Know what saved me?

An outline.

A simple outline.

If you follow the Freytag pyramid or other system of writing, you should have the basic information for your novel’s middle at your fingertips… what happens next?  Print it all out on paper and study it before you even begin writing. Make changes wherever you think necessary, and then, you can do several things to break the outline down even further so that you can eat it like you’d eat an elephant — one bite at a time.

I created an index card file for my plot when I wrote novels. I added what had to be part of each chapter to move the story forward and added any other notes that I felt needed to be there, and filed each card under the chapter number. When I started a new chapter, I’d pull out all of the index cards that I had included for it and writing was much, much easier for me. You might want to try that.

Or, organize your material on the computer.  Here’s a site where you can find several free ways to do that: . I can’t speak to the cleanliness or efficacy of any of them because I’ve not used them; however, I did download yWriter when I found it and will be giving it a try.  Just be sure to scan these for viruses before installing them on your computer.

Other options might be: Page Four, Storybook, and Writer’s Cafe, but any of them would be an upgrade from the index card file. It’s easy to change information, to move stuff around, etc.

Whatever you decide to use for making outlines — just do it! Without an outline, your novel could completely lose you and you’ll never get it done! Don’t let that happen. Give yourself a road map for creating an amazing middle, and the task will be much less daunting. Heck, it might even get done! I mean, I would start the day knowing what was before me and that made writing the middle easier, too. I didn’t have to figure out what to write next. My outline told me.

So, why put roadblocks in your own path? Do it the smart way, not the lazy way, and write your middle with your outline in mind.

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