The first thing I learned when switching to writing serial fiction. I was writing my first serial and, as many writers have talked endlessly about, the “Murky Middle” jumped up to bite me. I knew where the end was but was floundering to get there. I did eventually finish the story. On a re-read, I think I found over twenty plot holes that were all related to that murky middle writing. The next serial story I did something I hated in school, built a skeleton for the story. I broke it down into point A to point B, important clues, emotional states, and human nature. It flew by so quickly that I exceeded the first one not only in quality, but also in quantity. Something I thought as a hindrance made the work fly.
- Point A: Where your characters are, and possibly key items that led them there.
- Point B: Did they make their goal, did they make it worse, or did they make a sacrifice that will come back to make things harder later?
- Important Clues: You never want to be super obvious, but you are the writer. Things that are obvious to you need to subtly be conveyed to the reader. Create for yourself, but write for your audience.
- Emotional States: Your characters feel emotion, all kinds. Even if you don’t relate their entire back story, you should know a character is going to snap in a certain situation and punch an ally due to their past and temperament. Did they almost die in the last scene and have it shrugged off by the group?
- Human Nature: Even in your most evil character there is good. The most self-centered person I have ever known in real life, saved someone else’s kid from being hit. While they may have done it for the praise, they did save a child that wasn’t their own. I wouldn’t advise writing someone sociopathic, they lack any human qualities. If you do decide to do that anyway, be prepared to go completely into that dark hole.
I hope this helps writers who find themselves trapped in plot holes and the “Murky Middle”
Charles R. Colp
Addendum: I am not an expert. I am not the greatest writer. I am just hoping my learning experiences help someone finding themselves in these traps. Every writer is different, if one part of what I said works, use it, if another part doesn’t, throw it out. No worries.