I feel really bad for the “middle”. It has a bad reputation. Seriously, it must have a huge guilt complex. And I don’t blame it.
The middle will make or break your novel. (No wonder we curse it so often.)
If you craft your novel well, the middle is the part where readers give a contented sigh and race to the end with their fingers gripped on the ereader device book. If you have a saggy middle – a reader just might close the book.
I’m a plotter. So when I’m writing I have motivation to finish because I know where I’m going. I’m excited to see how everything unfolds and to reach the climax. But when I’m plotting I struggle with the middle just like pantsers who are writing through the middle.
What I think makes a good middle: (or Act II)
- plants for later payoffs or revelations
- main character hunting down false clues or trying to reach goals, and they make mistakes
- introduction or furthering of the inside character arc
- disasters and complications
- plot points and information that push the story forward
- developing relationships
The middle middle: the big twist, reversal, huge revelation; the part where the reader gasps and the story takes off in a whole different direction.
- real clues and plot developments
- increased stakes in the outer and inner plot
- everything goes wrong
- payoffs from earlier plants
- any subplots or separate storylines start connecting
- devastation and the main character’s dark moment
- mc makes plans
After the middle, the story heads into Act III and the climax.
There you have it. I find motivation through the middle by constantly asking how I can make it bigger, better, more suprising – while moving the plot forward.
Do you struggle with your middles? And what aspect of the middle is the hardest? How have you learned to perfect your middles? (Srsly tell all because I’m stuck in a middle right now.)