That Big Gap in the Middle

That old novel idea has been bubbling around in my brain again. The idea has been with me for a long time, years now. I’ve made at least two attempts at it but I’ve never been able to write it all down, start to finish, so I hesitate to call my previous attempts “drafts”. I have spent a lot of effort on it, though, and I have tons of notes and character ideas and themes… but when I try to think of the actual plot, as in the series of events that happen over the course of the story, my brain just kind of fuzzes out.

I spent some time in the last couple of weeks stuffing clever people’s ideas about premise vs. plot into my head, and I came to the decision that I will write down everything I think needs to happen, and then see if that will tell me what I need to work on still.

So I did.

That big gap in the middle… that’s the problem.

Each color represents a different main character, although I have a couple of other characters I still need to add. But seeing it all laid out like that… you see that big gap in the middle-ish? That’s the part I’m struggling with. I don’t really know what happens there.

Turns out it was helpful to write it all down. I can spend some time thinking about that gap and figuring out what needs to happen to connect the beginning and end.

And, honestly… maybe it’s OK for the protagonist (in blue) to be simply reactive to what the antagonist is doing in the early part of the story. Maybe that leads to a breaking point where they have to push through their weakness, the one that keeps holding them back, and be more proactive.

I really identify with them right now. Time to be more proactive…

a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity

I’m 5 years old, maybe younger, definitely preschool. I’m wearing my hooded blue cordoroy coat, zipped in snug, wearing ice skates and standing on the edge of the rink.

Near the railing.

In fact, I’m hanging on to the railing for dear life, watching the other kids skate and laugh and fall down and get back up again.

I look at my hands, knuckles white, death grip on the rail.

Every time I move my feet, I feel the blade cutting into the ice and slip. Each foot seems to want to go in different directions. But if I hang on to the rail, hard, as hard as I’ve ever gripped anything in my entire life… my feet can’t go far.

One finger starts to loosen… knuckles slowly turn flesh-colored again… One finger slowly moves itself away from the others, twitching from the release of tension, but ready in an instant to resume clutching the rail.

I slip. I grip harder.

The sounds of yelling and happy voices are muffled by the thick warm material of the coat, somewhere behind me. Out on the rink. The volume of their joyful noise rises and falls as they circle the rink.

The cold slowly penetrates my protective coat.

I manage to let go, briefly, nanoseconds’ worth, my palm separated by bare milimeters of air.

True story. For several certain values of True.