Have you ever read a book that frustrated you so much, you stopped reading? Have you ever read a book and refused to continue reading the next in the series because you knew exactly what the author was going to do and it just made you roll your eyes?
Have you ever read a book that frustrated you, but for some reason, you had to keep reading it?
Some people think writing a book is easy and for the most part, I suppose it is. Writing a compelling story that engages and hooks the reader, keeps them on edge and makes them want to come back for more is the hard part.
I've written my first novel. I mean, I've written a first draft, and a second and third. I've finally done the structural edit and gotten rid of all my messy middle. Not sure what I mean? Well, I've cut a whole 6000 words from the beginning of the story so it starts right, smack, bang in the middle of the action. Decided to completely change the genre from a Science Fiction to a Fantasy novel which means no more space ships. Changed every character's name except for two ... twice. Shuffled around twelve scenes to fit better into the story. Revived a horse and created another monster. Turned an old woman younger. Fattened up an innkeeper. Given most of my minor characters detailed backstories too. Allowed a young girl at a chance to become more involved in the story. Changed point of views in some scenes to enhance the story. Introduced a character earlier in the story. Killed off a brother and merged his personality with his sister's and added an escape scene that had otherwise been overlooked.
What more do you have to do, you ask? Well, I now need to go over each scene to ensure every sentence makes sense and doesn't leave the reader tongue-tied. I need to add detail where it's needed and remove it where it's not. I need to double check grammar and spelling and I need to make certain the story reads true to each character's point of view. And double check for any more plot holes.
It might sound like a lot of work and some might even think it's not worth it. But if I want to have a story readers find frustrating, but for some reason keep reading, then I'm going to have to put in the effort. I'm going to have to work out the kinks and fix the messy middles, otherwise someone might stop reading.
If you're not writing a story, you are certainly living one. Are you currently in a messy middle? Try taking a step back and looking at it from all angles, all points of view. Sometimes a different perspective helps.