Beginnings, Middles and Endings


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!)

~

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19 thoughts on “Beginnings, Middles and Endings

  1. Terri Tffany says:

    I really LOVED your pictures! You know how to capture the scenic beauty of most anything.
    My middle sags and I’m trying to be sure it doesn’t. Trying to beef up my creative self!!

    • Thanks, Terri. I miss a lot sometimes, but it’s surprising what beauty there is in the ordinary when I take time to look for it. Now I have to apply the same kind of magnifying glass to my current w.i.p.!

  2. joylene says:

    Stunning photos, Carol. Did you take them through the windshield? Awesome. The highway looks rough in spots, which is why I would have closed my eyes through most of the trip. It’s wonderful that you captured so much beauty.

    • Yes, they were all taken through the windshield… as usual. Thus the blurs, reflections, raindrops, etc. Watching for potential photos helped take my mind off that road! It wasn’t too bad, but there were some slippery sections.

  3. Sharon O says:

    Beautiful pictures thank you for sharing them.

  4. Shari Green says:

    I’m not talking about post-Christmas dieting strategies! — Ahaha! 😀

    Beautiful series of photos, Mom! So cool to discover beauty all around us, where at first glance we may have thought there was nothing at all special.

    I’m afraid my WIP has a sagging middle. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say it has a wandering, convoluted mess of a middle. I’m workin’ on it…. 😉

    • You know all about finding extraordinary views among the ordinary — your awesome oceanside photos show that. I guess it proves God’s creation doesn’t always need sunshine to be appreciated.

      I think I share your “wandering middle” syndrome with my current w.i.p. Maybe I like sightseeing too much. 😉

  5. Katt says:

    You’re pictures are breathtaking. I’m like you. Sometimes I’m so tired going or coming I think about sleeping. However, I open my eyes wide, afraid I might miss one beautiful sight after another. You captured so many. The hawk, waiting in the ice laden tree. The snow covered mountains almost lost in the fog. These pictures should be in a book, maybe a travel guide? You are a lady with many talents.
    Thank you my friend for taking me on a memorable journey with you.
    Hugs and Blessings
    Katt

    • I’m embarrassed by your praise, Katt. I’m truly a “point and click” photographer and many more pictures are discarded than ever make it to the printed stage.

      There were so many fleeting sights I would love to have captured, but that would have required stopping and getting out of the truck… and stopping on a trip between points A and B isn’t in my DH’s mental handbook. Then again, that’s not entirely true. To be fair, I should admit he took the hawk photo for me, out his side window. But it was a quick stop in the middle of the road, and only because we were near home and there was no other traffic around!

  6. mE says:

    I love your pics! They are inspiring for writing, and would make great book covers! ! ! Glad you both are home safe.
    Much love,
    mE

    • Thanks to all my blogging, when I take photos nowadays I often look at them with a view to how they might be used here and if they might have a writing application. Sometimes I think I let my imagination get carried away!

  7. Tricia says:

    I think my beginning sags more than my middle, and maybe my end a little too. And yeah I wasn’t talking about my novel. 🙂

  8. I’ve written only one manuscript. I didn’t struggle with the middle sagging. That’s not to say I haven’t struggled. Learning to write, understanding the craft, telling the story artfully, these have been my daunting issues. I will keep at it until it’s finished.

    I have enjoyed seeing all your photos! I’m not surprised that you didn’t sleep through your snowy travels. What a great God that brought you back safely! Blessings to you, Carol…

    • To be honest, middles aren’t usually my weakness either, although as I keep upping the conflict in my present w.i.p. I think I’m wandering farther afield than I should. There might be a lot of cutting during revisions. I hope your story continues to progress well.

  9. Dialogue helps zip things along, just like in real life.

  10. patti says:

    WOW! What a GREAT post! Sagging middles.
    Yep, sometimes I struggle with sagging EVERYTHINGS!
    I think conflict ALWAYS resolves sags…and reading with an intentionality to pace well.

    Happy New Year, Carol!

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