“The big twist!” “The big reveal!”
I love finding that moment in the middle of a book. I look for it. If the midpoint scene does everything it is supposed to do, I’m well on my way to being a huge fan. (Okay, along with things like voice, character, and stakes – important stuff like that.)
Possible Midpoint scenes: (Just a few.)
- Secrets revealed.
- A new bad guy steps into the scene and the one we thought was the villain takes second place.
- A murder.
- A major clue found.
- A couple makes their first real connection – as in a kiss or almost kiss.
- The main character makes an important decision.
- The main character experiences a false win. (The reader sees disaster in the near future.) Or a false loss.
- True relationships revealed.
- A big fight and the main love interest or best friend disappears for a bit.
- The scene should have an emotional impact on your character; and hopefully, your reader. You want your reader to invest even more in your character. If the midpoint moves the storyline forward but not the internal storyline then something is missing.
- The scene could move the plot in a new direction. Likewise, it’s about impossible for the main character to be affected emotionally without something big happening. The outer and inner arc are too connected.
- The readers should gasp or open their eyes a bit wider after reading the scene. I love a book, where I hit the middle, and instead of yawning, I grip the edges and race to the end.
- Power to convince the reader to pass the book on to a friend, write a review, and spread the word at this awesome book they just read.
- The scene should not just be thrown in there because you read a craft book that said, “something big needs to happen in the middle of your story”. That would make it feel contrived. If you plan ahead, you can foreshadow and plant clues so that the midpoint scene feels organic to your story.
- Because of the scene, the character should have to make new decisions, learn new skills or put skills learned to the test, and learn new emotional truths – all to be used in the rest of the story.
- To keep your readers from falling asleep or choosing another book from the TBR pile.
- And of course, plan the Midpoint scene so it’s in proportion to your story. A big moment in a quieter character-driven story would be small in a big thriller. And vice versa.
- Make sure the scene is in line with how you’ve presented and developed your characters.
So, there you go. Now that you’ve got the goods on the Midpoint, all you have to do is worry about the easy stuff like voice, 3D characters, and theme.
What’s your favorite Midpoint scene? Do you put any thought into it when writing or does it happen naturally?
What a good summary, Laura! Now all I have to do is try to create one for my story.
I really love your writing tips, Laura. This is another brilliant one. 😀
Andrea – I always have to check over my midpoint, even after I’ve written it. I have better perspective after a first draft!
Stina – Thanks! I’m sharing as I’m learning.
Sometimes it happens naturally, but then, not always in the right place.
This is a wonderful and informative post! Thanks for sharing these tips. I’m suddenly soooo motivated to write! Thanks!!
There is a reveal in the middle of my novel, but I need to make it more of a surprise, more of a real twist. I’m getting to that place in the re-write so this advice has perfect timing for me.
Angela – Same with me. After the first draft I’ll realize it happened to late or too early!
Matthew – I end up having to write in more build up for my midpoints too. I think that’s pretty natural!
Yes I love the midpoint scene. I also love writing it. To me that’s even more important than the beginning, well, sort of. If done well, that should catapult your reader into losing sleep, or being late for work, forgetting to feed the dog. The midpoint should be so spectacular the reader forgets about their own lives just so they can keep reading.
The importance of that middle pivotal scene hit me at the conference I went to last fall. Thanks for the reminder.
The way John Green builds anticipation in LOOKING FOR ALASKA makes for a great middle point that could not be accomplished by most writers.
Thanks for this cool post, I think many writers forget about the middle point until their CPs bring it up.
You summed up the midpoint perfectly!
I’m going to have to put a lot more work into my mid point…
Great post Laura. 🙂
There’s nothing more than I love than having a secret revealed in a midpoint scene. It makes the second read so much better because you can sort out the clues that were right on the page.
I love writing the false win myself. Nothing like making a MC think they have it in the bag before throwing them back into the fire.
I think if you’re following an outine and have planned ahead, it’s easier to build up to and the excitement (because you know what’s coming) comes easier. Great post! Lots of food for thought here!
Thanks everyone! I’ll need to figure out my favorite midpoint scenes too. I’m off to visit your blogs!
Oh, Laura — you could seriously be teaching a class! Great post!
Great post, Laura 🙂
I was so excited about what I had planned for the mid-point of my WIP that I skipped ahead and wrote a good portion of it! I know that I’ll end up having to revise some of it in accordance with the scenes that come before, but I just had to get it out of my head and onto paper!
Sherrie – Thanks! 🙂 I’ve been just been sharing what I’ve been focusing on as I tackle revisions.
Kristy – I understand wanting to just get it down on paper. Revisions can come later!
Another fabulously helpful post. Thanks a ton!
As I was reading this, I was trying to think what the midpoint was in my WiP – and I realized it’s there, I just never thought of it this way. Great stuff!! Thanks. 🙂
Another great post. All of those things are important to think of in the so-called saggy middle.
Thank you for this, Laura. I’m currently plotting my next story, and I’m thinking about the “big” events in the story. This really helped me! Great timing.
Good Lord, Laura! Your blog is addictive. Each entry gets better than the last. It’s original, and informative times ten. As to the question – I tend to do these things naturally, but of COURSE have to revise to get it just right.
Great post, Laura!! I’m in the middle of a revision right now and am playing with that mid-point scene.
Thank goodness…I was reading this and checking off what my midpoint managed. Whew! My midpoint actually came to me first. It was the beginning I needed to work out to make the midpoint believable.
Loved the list of possible ideas for a midpoint. I’m going to have to file this one away for future reference too. However, trying to remember a favorite midpoint scene is hard! It’s so much easier to remember the opening and the ending. But you are right you have to have something big to prevent a sagging middle. In my current WIP: my MC gets kidnapped!
Both. I usually begin writing and then once I find I have something, I step back and think. Well, actually I walk around my house talking to myself. LOL I tend to be a complex writer–so I’ve been told, anyway. Wish I could write more simply but that’s just not me. My main plot usually coils very deeply around the sub-plots and I love it when it all comes together. The ‘ah-ah’ moment is such a great feeling.
I hopped over here from Stina’s blog. Great post. Glad to meet you. I’m following you now. Enjoy your weekend.