This week, my fellow Randoms and I are talking about mushy middles. I find when I’m having issues with a mushy middle, I use my own experiences to help me with my flabby, flatulent middle.
1) For instance, in my newest book, I have a customer tell my store associate heroine his son’s pee’d all over the place and “Have fun cleaning it up.” Yep, that happened to me. I hope that father is burning in Daddy Hell, i.e., teaching his two-left-feet son to drive.
2) When I was in New York taking the subway to The Met, a little boy went up to my 18-month-old and slapped her face. It was light, but it was still a slap. In my mind (when means in my book at some point), I curled my daughter’s hand into a fist and punched that kid in the face. In reality, I yelled, “Stop that” and glared at his mother and couldn’t stop obsessing over it in my head for the next 12 hours.
3) On the same trip to New York, we went to the Time Warner center and encountered about ten NYPD officers dressed like SWAT: body armor, helmets, guns that looked like rocket launchers. As we took off our coats, one of these scary guys traded silly faces with our daughter. She has that effect on people. In fiction? Maybe my heroine has that effect on some sour-puss of a boy.
4) I use my stories as a catharsis. All those mean girls I ignored in high school or at least acted like I ignored? They’re usually the basis of the mean girls in my stories or even the less-than-perfect mom/friend/etc. in my stories. Thinking up ways to tell off those mean girls or get back at those mean girls helps me give a good jolt to my story.
5) I use the Force. My husband is a geek, and I use his geekness all the time to help me flesh out scenes that will give some humor to a flat-lined story. For instance, I have one of my secondary characters talking Yoda in my latest book. And in my first draft, I had my heroine dressed up as Captain Kirk’s one and only wife when she is guilted into going to a Cosplay event with her friend Pete. This path ended up dragging down my story and is now on the cutting room floor, but hopefully it will make it into the Deleted Scenes section of my website (when I of course make such a section–hey, it’s on my to-do list, okay? It’s right after “Sign daughter up for self-defense courses” and “Go to therapy to stop plotting the demise of a six-year-old bully.”)