Usually when a writing pundit talks about the muddle in the middle, he or she is referring to the middle of your book. It takes some crafing and some real ingenuity to keep a book from falling flat on its face in the middle. Middles need a high point. They need something spectacular to shift the story so that readers gasp and keep reading--
But we're not going to talk about that today. We're going to talk about the "middle" of my most recent proposal.
Can there be a middle in a proposal?
Yeah, but I'm not talking about the "middle" in the way most people do.
Which takes us to the story of my proposal...
A few weeks ago, I had time to start a proposal for a continuity I'm working on for Harlequin Romance. I wrote two chapters and started the third, plus I wrote the synopsis. Then I got approval to write the next book in my contract. That took a month, but on Friday, after the book went in, I went back to the proposal.
This proposal doesn't "sing" but it hits all the marks. On a lazy morning, which Friday really wanted to be, I could have slapped another scene or two into chapter 3 and pronounced it good enough and had the weekend off.
And, oh, man, did I ever want to do that!
But I recognized the danger of the "middle" of a project. It's that point that falsely tells us, Hey, come on. This is good enough. Just send it in.
When in reality we know we haven't searched for grammar errors, repeat words, bad sentences.
We haven't taken the time to make our descriptions unique, fresh, enticing.
We haven't read the scenes to see if they knit together.
We haven't read the scenes to see if they really move the story or only take up space.
We might have enough chapters. We might have a beginning, middle and end. We might have a black moment and two great characters who grow enough to solve the problem at the satisfying conclusion...
But we aren't done.
Books need TLC. They need grammar runs. They need vocabulary safaris. They need description massaging. They need character examinations. They need storyboarding to be sure you really have told the story the best way possible.
Do you see why I believe that typing the words "the end" isn't the end, but the middle?
And do you see why the middle can be a muddle? You'll be confused. You'll be tired. You'll be eager to get your book out. But you shouldn't jump the gun. You should be good to your story (and yourself) and take a day off...then go back to chapter one, page one and check your story, check your scenes, follow your character arcs with colored markers, and check your words.
Then you won't have any regrets or fears when you hit send on the email submitting it to an agent who might have requested it or an editor who's looking for exactly what you wrote!