This weekend I began writing chapter 13 of my fantasy project. There’s nothing particularly special about chapter 13. It doesn’t even fall directly in the middle of the book (so far as I know; I don’t have a set number of chapters). But it’s starting to cause me anxiety.
The middling point of a book is kind of terrifying. I enjoy beginning chapters, where you get to set a scene and write exposition and create this brand new world. The characters are new and exciting, and there’s the anticipation of “anything can happen”.
But the middle? You have to actually make the characters do stuff. You have to bring storylines together. In mine, I need to bring all of my main characters into the same physical location and make them interact. I have to explain everything that’s going on (without being too explainy) so the reader understands why the characters are acting the way they are. I need to kill a few of them off, and I’m still undecided on who to kill off and when.
I need my readers to be emotionally invested. If I’ve done my job up to this point, then they care about my protagonist and want him to succeed. They’re connected to my other main characters, and I’m not going to tell you what they should be feeling about them because I don’t want to give the story away. The coming action events need to tug at their heart strings, make them fear and hope and be incapable of putting the book down.
Now is the time to buckle down and make concrete decisions and actually turn the direction of the story. I’m not that great at this part. It’s hard. And scary. Sometimes I’d rather stay at the beginning, where things are easier and I don’t have to think about it as much. Where the decisions I make aren’t life or death (figuratively for me, literally for my characters). But like anything else, if I never push through the middle, the story never gets done.
Talk to me in the comments. What part of the story is the hardest for you?