The past two weeks for me have been about travelling and visiting, enjoying holiday time with family members and friends. The outbound trip was under gorgeous blue skies. The homecoming, not so great… two days of constant snow.
As we started out I watched the passing landscape with disinterest as blowing snow transformed everything into dismal grey and white. One snow covered mile after another. How boring. Maybe I’d sleep the hours away.
But then I began discovering glimpses of beauty I’d almost missed – the barely visible grandeur of a mountain top; hardy mountain sheep digging through hillside snow for bits of grass; colour in a passing home and yard; the welcome appearance of a sand truck and roadside signs. (Then again, maybe this particular sign wasn’t so welcome.)
There were interesting shapes and patterns. Snow whipping across pavement. Marshmallow rocks, and windshield ice crystals.
Snow-laden evergreens and etched coniferous branches.
In the middle of a squall, out on a lake, ice fishermen.
A tiny rural church almost hidden behind the hills.
As we neared the south coast the snow turned to rain and the hills emerged from white shrouds to reveal their winter green and brown wardrobe.
Mossy branches scrambled against a wet and darkening sky.
And as we approached home, a lone hawk kept watch.
I didn’t doze off at all. The entire journey had kept my attention. There was nothing spellbinding… nothing like the dazzling scenes of our earlier drive… nothing that overtook my anticipation of home. But I was reminded that there’s more to travelling than the departure and arrival.
There can’t be a writer anywhere who hasn’t heard about the importance of novel beginnings, middles and endings. There is so much emphasis on strong hooks and satisfying endings, however, that it’s easy for middles to become lost in a whiteout of boredom during the run from start to finish.
The entire story must provide the reader with a reason to keep reading.
Do you struggle with sagging middles? How do you tighten them up? (And I’m not talking about post-Christmas dieting strategies!)