avocadovpx, who is apparently much in the habit of being linked by me all of a sudden, has a post here on coping with the Dreaded Middle Of The Book.
Anybody who's been here for a while knows that the Middle is not my favorite part. I love beginnings, because it's this delicate balancing act, setting everything up for later use and discovering in the course of it what the book or short story is about. And I love ends, because I am all about the gratification of finishing things. I love that. It makes me happy.
Middles are just the part you need to get across to turn (a) into (b). I never worry about filling them, however, possibly because I have so damned much stuff going on in an average book that I need every column inch. So that's my solution: when you get to that 35K mark, or wherever the dreaded spot where the wall appears for you (it's usually a third of the way into the story, I find, but YMMV) you just start breaking things. Make stuff happen! Kick puppies! Trip the characters into bed! Amputate something! Kill somebody! In other words, make the bastards react.
This is very much on my mind right now because I woke up this morning with a chunk of "Skull Ring" in my head, so I sat down and wrote that out--it turned out to be nearly 8 pages worth (remember what I said about finishing a novel and having short stories start to fall out of my head?)--and then I stalled because I had hit the middle, and don't know what the plot is. So that one goes back into the hopper. Meantime, I also have "Shoggoths in Bloom" stalled because I need to figure out a plot twist," and "King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree" stalled because it needs a plot, and likewise "The Death of Terrestrial Radio."
Which tells me, ma'am, that it's time for the first lines meme.
And so, behind the cut, the current first lines of everything I'm working on right now.
A real backstage mostly resembles the opening tease of The Muppet Show: dust, bustle, and unflattering light.
""The Death of Terrestrial Radio"
The first word was meant to be spoken quietly, if it should ever be spoken at all.
When they dragged you from your labyrinth: they promised you feasts, willing women; they gilded your broad horns; they collared you in gold.
"Shoggoths in Bloom"
"Well, now, Professor Harding," the fisherman says, as his Bluebird skips across Penobscot Bay, "I don't know about that."
He's a better ghost than he was a man. But it's harder to get good roles when you're dead.
After the tipping point, recursion becomes a fatal cascade.
"On Safari in R'lyeh and Carcosa with Gun and Camera"
"We wouldn’t be having this problem if you'd flunked Algebra."
"King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree"
The ghosts from the dam always come in the summer. Like the rest of the tourists, I guess.
"Dark on Wednesdays"
The Tower of Babylon rose through the veil of transplanted jungle foliage and piped-in orchid scent to scrape a desert sky burned almost colorless by the Nevada sun. Visible the entire length of the Las Vegas Strip, it collapsed in fire and fury six times daily, six days a week, wind conditions permitting.
For a premium, you could ride it down.
Bone and Jewel Creatures
As Bijou grew more frail, her creations grew more Byzantine.
The secret to getting away with murder is to tell no living soul. The secret to getting away with lying is to believe with all your heart.
I loved you not.
And having writ, I hear you mock reply: "I was the more deceived." Those words do vouchsafe no revelation, for you loved me no better in your time. But for the sake of him we buried these score years gone, I will write you now.
Make it what you will.
She stalked into the mahogany-paneled reception room, a jacket matching her chocolate trousers slung over her shoulder like the mantle of a queen, tiny emerald studs glinting in her ears like the eyes of a snake.
Patience and Fortitude
Nothing made Matthew hate himself more than waiting for the elevator.
The Sea thy Mistress