Ah, the middle, it’s the hardest part to write

Joe’s Blog Post #10 — I had the oddest thing happen to me this week. I was about half way through a book –  page 252 – and I flipped to the next page. It was 186. The next one was 187. The next one was 188. It went right up to 216, then leaped to 282. Basically, somehow, some ninny, somewhere copied 30 pages from the earlier part of the book and them into the middle of the book.

How can this have possibly happened?

So I went to the store where I bought it from. I went up to the counter. “I need to return this book,” I told the clerk. “It is defective.”

“Do you have a receipt?”

“At one point, probably, but I don’t have one now. But take a look at it. Page 252.”


“Now look at page 253.”

“Ah.” She closed the book. “Could be a collector book one day.”

“Could be I want to find out if my Space Marines killed the all the demons or found a basket full of kittens. Can I please exchange this?”

To my surprise, I could. Actually, I was very surprised. As she rang through the transaction, I had to ask. “Does this kind of error happen often?”

“More than you’d think,” she said. “Editing isn’t what it used to be.”

And I left, happy at the store, but wondering what happened to standards. In e-publishing, I get it, sometimes there aren’t editors, but mainstream, wow, they need to do better.

Then I thought, but hey, hold on a second. Everyone has trouble with the middles so maybe this is the ideal solution! Maybe instead of adding plot layers or depth or character developement or, ack, emotion, to your book, just copy a few pages from the earlier chapters and hope your readers are too tired, too drunk, too stoned, too world-weary to even notice (or care.)

So, if my book ever gets published, check out the middle. It may have something interesting in it.


Pages Written to Date: Broke 200.

Funny Illustrations Drawn of Beasties in My Book: 1 (reminded me I suck at drawing.)

Number of Dwarven Songs from the Hobbit Learned: 1

Number of People Who Want to Hear Me Sing it: 0

5 thoughts on “Ah, the middle, it’s the hardest part to write

  1. I had the same problem with my own novel, “the shadow of Xeno’s eye.” It opens with fast moving action, and ends with the inexorable collapse of the characters’ world. The problem was, making that collapse inexorable meant that the middle had to set up all the causes of the collapse in a way that was consistent with the action in the beginning. It wasn’t easy, and the middle was the hardest part to write.

    There was a story about the Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons, who was notorious for his impenetrable writing style. A group of his graduate students were trying to figure out what he was saying in a certain chapter of his book, “The Social System.” Only one of them seemed to understand the text, and read aloud from certain passages as he explained things to his colleagues. Suddenly he stopped, and examined what he was reading. The pages in his copy of the book were all out of sequence. The one who thought he understood had been reading gibberish.

  2. Keep going! Great progress! You may be onto something here. It would have made my life a lot easier over the last month, that’s for sure – just have the mc repeat the entire beginning of the book, whip her back to the evil villain’s lair, defeat the villain and have the fairy godmother magic her home. Easy. Have to remember that for next time.

    The song gave me chills. Peter Jackson is great when he gets it right, but when he messes up, he really is south of the south 40. I echo macswriter: WTF?

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