I was watching a movie yesterday. The station ad made it sound like a fun Rom Com with a twist, the blurb sounded interesting – something a little left of centre and unique. It was about a writer so that sparked my curiosity as well.
The start was promising. There was a hook; a what if. The characters were established with just a dash of angst background. I started to wish I had thought of the idea. But as it progressed, it was as if I was watching three different movies all pulverised into one. There was the ‘search for what a relationship was like’, the sinister ‘what if you could control the one you love and what would you do to him/her’ and finally the quirky romantic comedy (which dragged out with some pointless scenes that did not serve any obvious purpose to the ‘supposed’ story line).
At the half way mark, it lost my interest. A cup of tea was made and a toilet break had - without bothering to even mind about using the pause control. I was asking myself Where is this going? What is the point? Do I need another cup of tea? Fortunately the ending improved. He learnt his lesson, wrote a best selling book and ended up meeting the (possible/assumed – depending on your romantic notiongs) love of his life.
There was a point where I almost gave up on the movie (it was just as well that it got more interesting with the change of tone after my self-imposed break) It was suffering from the ‘middle syndrome’. At the same time it made me realise that I am not the only one that has this problem.
With a movie, sticking it out through a uninspiring middle is not as drastic as in a book. There is less time invested for the watcher of a movie. Much more time (and effort) is required to plod through a badly thought out middle of a novel. Many readers will give up and not bother to see if the end holds provides gratification.
Having suffered from this myself (and from what I have read, so have many other writers), I set about doing some investigation on how others deal with the ‘middle’ of their stories. I checked out writers’ blogs, articles and those books we all buy to give us both inspiration and insights on how to improve our writing.
I get a great idea, the words flow. I get stuck. I then usually turn to writing the ending. Then it stops. That middle bit, possibly the most important part of a story, should deliver on the promises of an beginning ‘hook’. It should flesh out characters, supplying more background and providing added torment (um.. challenges) for our ‘hero/heroine’. It should set us up for the ending while keeping the reader interested and wanting to read more. This is why I consider it a very important part of a story and one of the hardest to write.
Thinking back on the movie, it was frustrating, even boring at points but I did enjoy the ending. If not for the ending, I would have said that I hated it. I didn’t. But I will not watch it again. It had so much potential and just left me feeling empty – not wanting more but wishing that I had been given more.
I have just had another cup of tea, so now I am off to tackle some more of my writing… on the middle.
The Middle Syndrome