30 August 2010

Overarching Tension

Meddlesome, murky, sagging are words often used to describe the Middle of an early draft of a novel, memoir, or screenplay. 

One way to support the Middle is by providing an overarching tension -- Will she or won't she? When the reader is clear there is something significant at stake, like life or death, and will be revealed later in the story, the reader is willing to wait and first enjoy a bit of a romp in the exotic world of the middle of the Middle.

More than any other part of a writing a story, the Middle is fraught with antagonists, both for the protagonist and for the writer. Will she achieve her goal? Will you? Or, will the antagonists in the Middle prevail?

Make a list of the antagonists preventing the protagonist from her reaching her goal in the Middle -- both internal and external antagonists. 

Make a list of the antagonists facing you in the Middle -- both internal and external antagonists with the potential to send you off track, stall out, stop writing.

See how the lists are similar and how they are different.

If you're unable to surmount the obstacles awaiting you on your pursuit of finishing your story, can your protagonist? The two journeys are intertwined. Like on a plane with the use of the oxygen mask, attend to yourself first before looking after your story. 

Watch the words you tell yourself. 
Stop thinking so much. 
Get back into your body and write.

Release as much of the overarching tension in your personal story as you can while you systematically build up the story tension. 

The stronger you are, the better your story.