[The following question came through the comments of Ron’s last post, and because it’s late and I am too giddy from seeing Project Runway to sleep, I’ve decided to make it the inaugural edition of an exciting new feature, ASK THE INKPOT. Hey, we need an email address. Administrator? Oh, Administrator????]]

Dear Inkpot,

I’d love to hear something about lumpy middles. Any advice for rewriting, rewriting, rewriting those sections?

Muddled in the Middle

Dear Muddled,

I think a muddy middle is the most intimidating thing to deal with. I have trouble with revision–I can scorch the earth and begin again, and I can tinker with what’s there, but the sort that lies in the middle is hard for me. I try to think about distilling a book down to all the narrative arcs it contains and making sure every scene has a place in one of these arcs and somehow propels it forward. I think about all the small stories that play out in between the characters and if they have any shape. And I think about the ideas in the book and how the scenes serve those ideas.

Sometimes the answer for me is that the book needs more of a backbone, some kind of tension or structure or idea that gives it shape. It can be as simple as sharpening the desire of the protagonist (or antagonist) or tightening the conflict or… What moves us forward? What keeps us turning the page?
But I don’t know. I’d love other people’s thoughts on the matter.

What say you, Inkpotters?