Welcome to the Middle
The close of March cleaves a sharp division in GLVWG, those who attended the conference and those who did not. If you’re following the messages on our general membership message board, you’ve read the kudos and inside jokes (“Jon, put that microphone down!”) and the reactions to tips from our presenters and our keynote, Donald Maass.
If you did not attend, you might feel a tad left out right now. If you did attend, you’re probably still super-motivated. If you volunteered at the conference, you might still be tired and suffering from caffeine withdrawal. (And with that, let me thank everyone who served. Tammy Burke and her troops did a fantastic job and from what I saw the board was also very willing to help in any capacity they could.)
I realized something at the conference after Lisa Rector-Maass’ workshop on “middles” and with some augmentation from Donald Maass’ presentations.
We have reached our middles. Not our manuscripts or our characters, but us. We have hopes, dreams, goals, and conflicts. No matter where we’ve come from, what we’ve achieved or what we really hope to do, we haven’t reached our final scene. We all have more to come. We all want more.
According to our presenters, the middle of our manuscripts can always have more. Our middles should have more, too. Not the kind of middle that requires a trip to the gym. Not the kind of middle riddled with strife and catastrophe, although some people certainly have that. Like our protagonists, we must face our middles with more effort, a never-give-up attitude and a new plan in the midst of mounting challenges.
My protagonist would never disappoint his friends or family. I need to give him that same advantage, not to give up on him and his story. By the time I see everyone in April, I think those who attended the conference will have tons of new pages and edits. Those people will be exhausted and smiling.
For those who did not attend, look at the middle of your manuscript. Do the characters experience tension on every page? Do even the secondary characters have small plot lines that weave them into the story? Do you take your characters to places of great loss or joy? You can’t take the comfortable road of storytelling. Not in the current marketplace.
Happy writing and may your revisions be fruitful.