Yesterday, Cyn and I went to lunch with Brian Anderson, author of Zack Proton. We commiserated over the middle of novels (actually, he mentioned it in terms of screenplays): You'll get this great idea, and the beginning and the middle come along easily, but the middle is more difficult. Often in manuscripts, you see it merely being filler that comes between the first and last acts. This, sadly, is where I am now with RM. Plotting is
Speaking of plots, I've been seeing on some list servs a reluctance to put characters in danger (children shouldn't be put in harm's way, you see) or make them, well, mean (also bad) or have any kind of CONFLICT whatsoever.
While I can respect the sentiment, here's a good illustration of why conflict is necessary in literature (From the second season of Frasier in which Niles is haunted by seeing his old middle school bully arrive at Chez Crane as the plumber; in the scene, Frasier is trying to talk Niles out of giving said plumber a swirlee):
Frasier: You know the expression, "Living well is the best revenge"?
Niles: It's a wonderful expression. Just don't know how true it is. Don't see it turning up in a lot of opera plots. “Ludwig, maddened by the poisoning of his entire family, wreaks vengeance on Gunther in the third act by living well.”
Frasier: All right, Niles. [walking away]
Niles: [following] “Whereupon Wotan, upon discovering his deception, wreaks vengeance on Gunther in the third act again by living even better than the Duke.”
Frasier: Oh, all right!
Anyone ever actually sat down and read the plots to major operas? They usually make no sense whatsoever...(e.g., It's amazing how many sopranos can really belt out an aria when dying of consumption). But anyone who has masochistic tendencies should read A Night at the Opera: An Irreverent Guide to The Plots, The Singers, The Composers, The Recordings, by Denis Forman.