Beginning. Middle. End.
You need all three to have a story. You need all three to be really strong to have a good story.
I can usually nail two out of three. And that’s just not good enough. I’ve had killer endings, but without a middle, they really aren’t that killer because the reader doesn’t know why they should be shocked or thrilled that X happened. Without an ending, even strong beginnings and middles fall flat. No beginning? Will anyone care enough about your characters to move past page one?
It would help if my fizzling third were consistent. If my middles always dragged, I could spend more time plotting. If I just couldn’t get the beginnings or ends to work, I’m sure there’s some exercise to help me tone those muscles. Unfortunately, my weak spots travel up and down the plot line.
In high school, I wrote a “book” that had a, to my mind, sweeping confrontation at the end. I wrote and revised and re-revised until it sung. The problem was that there was no middle to the story. We opened, we ended. We didn’t care about the confrontation, sweeping or not because there had been no tribulations nor any character development. I had only a vague idea of how to get from A to B. I felt a little like that mathematician in S. Harris’ cartoon where the character starts an equation on the chalkboard, writes “a miracle occurs” and comes up with the answer.
Right now, I’m facing a non-existent ending. The beginning is great…the reader hits the ground running with the character. The middle is solid…characters have developed, tribulations have been faced. The ending? Elusive at best. My characters are looking at me, tapping their feet, ready to get a move on. My brain is dead in the water.
Other than just sitting down and writing it (a la NaNo), I’m not sure what I can do. Any advice?