“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?