Monday, February 17, 2020

Peering at the Mud of Muddy Middles

Sorry, it isn't a pretty picture. It's mud. My shoe. Tire tread marks from a delivery truck.
And, a hoof-print on the right side of my foot - look carefully. 

Have you experienced Muddy Middles?

It’s that part in the plot map where characters take an unexpected side turn, run down a rabbit trail, and flounder in a muddy pit.

Often, when I'm in the muddle middle moment of a novel, I discover a ripple which leads me to the plot's edgiest moment and back to the center again. It helps me re-focus the entire novel, gives me a boost of energy, and sends me roaring to the finish line - or at least to the next muddy middle crossroad.

Muddy middles aren't all that bad, when they are in the rear-view mirror.

But when we're stuck in them? Muddy middles are awful. Every bit of dialogue leaves a gritty taste in the mouth. The descriptions all feel dribbly. The fog descends and it isn't even a mysterious fog, or a romantic fog, or a fog where you can imagine dragons or zombies (dragon zombies?).

So, how do we pull ourselves out of the sucking mud threatening to tear off our waders and get to the more exciting walk through the mansion of mystery, or the dappled romantic meadows, or the fire-breathing dragon zombie horde-filled desolate plains?

I know, you’re waiting with bated breath (who made up that saying? Shakespeare – Merchant of Venice) for the ultimate secrets to life, muddy middles, and writing expertise … (cue really loud drum roll).

Well. I can’t give you a secret recipe, boom-it’s-all-fixed answer.

But I can peer into my rear-view mirror at past success.

And, I see a weird acronym forming: R-RACE.

 Rest. Yep. I wrote a four-letter word. Rest. That bad boy does actually help if it isn’t a wallowing sort of rest that lasts way too long.

Rejuvenation through something new, crazy, or just plain different than anything done before. In my own muddy middle right now, I’m turning a prose project into a graphic novel and attempting some song-writing. I signed up for volunteering at a poetry slam for youth in my area.

Affirmation. Write down what motivates you as a writer. Just write: I am a Writer. Say it out loud. Affirm it.

Community. The IWSG is a great place online for community. Check out all of our options: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, a Blog Hop, the Newsletter. Plus, I recommend RL community even if it’s a bit scary to meet other authors. Some of us are nice. Go to a writing meet up. Volunteer somewhere. It may take a bit to find your tribe, but you can.

Expect the finish line. Know you are going to reach it. Write down exactly what the finish line is for you – describe what it feels like. Envision it. Expect it.

Now, go, pull your feet out of that mud!

This post is brought to you from the Pacific Northwest, nearish Seattle, where we experienced more than 90+ days of gray cloud cover from November through early February. If you find the sun, take a photo of it for me and tag me on Instagram, please. I need to remember what it looks like so I'm not frightened of that glowing alien orb when it appears in the sky.


nashvillecats2 said...

Enjoyed your post very much. There has been much mud around of late due to terrible weather. The IWSG is a wonderful group which I'm proud to be a member.

Have a good week.


Yolanda Renée said...

Definitely know of what you speak. I usually get the beginning and the end just fine, it's tying it all together, that muddy middle that requires the most work. But in the end, it's always the most fun, of course, once you get past the blank stages. LOL

Juneta key said...

Yup, I have trouble with the muddy middle too. Great post and tips.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Yvonne - I'm glad to be a member, too!

Yolanda - yes, the middle is always the most work. :)

Juneta - Thanks!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tyrean - lots of mud here ... if you wish to pop over?? Good luck with your thoughts and then writing those memories - cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

R-Race - I like it!
And if you're really stuck, write about dragon zombies.

Pat Hatt said...

Just pretend to be a rhyming cat, that gets one out of the mud pretty quickly lol

Roland Clarke said...

Mnemonics are my MC's 4x4 solution, so yours rocks.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Tyrean! This is a wonderful post and exactly what I needed to hear. Of course, we learn from our mistakes. All we need to do is reflect on how we managed to overcome those obstacles and voila! We've got the solution from past experience. Your post has helped me more than I can say. Thank you. Merci. Gracias. Namaste.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Doing something creative but completely different can really help sometimes.

Ellen Jacobson said...

I've got a muddy middle going on right now. Thanks for the wonderful tips! Love your positivity.

I hate to say it, but I kind of wish we'd get more cloudy days here in Florida. Too much sun = heat. But, having lived in the PNW, I get where you're coming from. The neverending cloudy and rainy days can be a real drag.

cleemckenzie said...

It's a long slog between beginning and end, so I appreciated your post today. I'm sure you'll pull through the muddy part, and I'll send some sunshine if you'll send some rain.