Early Middles New Directions And Subplots

REMEMBER AWHILE BACK, I WARNED YOU that every plot will try to go wrong after the first big scene?

It's true. Generally, it's because fiction fatigue has set in. You've been concentrating intensely, and now your beginning is complete, doing all the jobs that beginnings need to do.

Back off a day or two, catch your breath, before going any further.

But leave your beginning alone.

That's terrifically important. You'll be inclined to tinker with it, unsure that the hard choices of intuition and craft were the right ones, after all. And much of your second-guessing will be wrong. When you've just finished something is not the right time to revise it. You don't know where it all fits in yet—what it's leading up to. Your story doesn't have a real shape yet that can resist insecure tinkering.

Leave your beginning alone, at least until you have one whole first draft, in the case of a short story; or until you're past the middle, in a novel. Until then, you're not in a position to judge the fiction as one unified thing and make informed decisions about the individual sections.

If you have ideas for revision, fine. Jot them down, staple them to page one. Start a file of afterthoughts. But don't try to

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implement them—not yet. Your beginning may well benefit from revision; as I warned you earlier, you may even find you have to scrap it and start over. But not now.

I think more stories have collapsed from premature tinkering than from any other single cause.

Fiction fatigue: expect it, and don't let it ruin your story.

Let the beginning cool off enough to stand poking and prodding, before you go back to it. Instead, after a healthy rest mowing lawn or going to yourjob, start gearing up for the special tasks that middles involve.

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