The middle of a story can be one of the hardest parts to write.
It’s easy to spend most of our time perfecting the beginning and end because they are the parts that will decide whether the reader will buy our book or continue to the next one.
But it’s easy for the middle to get off track as it gets harder to keep the characters from wandering away from the plot.
At this point, the stakes should get higher as the conflict increases.
It can be challenging to keep the middle interesting enough for your readers to finish the story as it begins to drag into predictability and they start wishing it would get to the end already.
To combat this, we need to give our midpoint as much importance as we do the other plot points.
Your protagonist should have a goal to work toward that will reveal something exciting or shocking to the reader that causes events to take a turn for the worse—a piece of information, a surprise reveal, a hidden secret, a sacrifice.
This ups the stakes, sending it toward an ending that is much more unpredictable and interesting that will leave the readers dying to know how the book will end.
It also forces the protagonist to work harder to reach their goal with a higher cost for doing so and heavy consequences for failure, making it even more satisfying once they do succeed.
The easiest way to look at the middle is as just another stepping stone toward the end that must accomplish four things:
Hurts the Protagonist in the Worst Way Possible
Up until this point the protagonist has been reacting to everything thrown at them.
Now is the time to force them to switch gears and fight back.
We do this by presenting them with something that is almost impossible to overcome and will hurt them the most.
This forces them to look at the situation from another angle and makes the story less predictable.
Creates Inner Turmoil
The only solution to the protagonist’s troubles is something they don’t want to do.
It perhaps even goes against their very nature or even their morals. But there seems to be no other way, thus increasing the tension.
Makes Them Consider Giving Up
The situation now seems hopeless and, for a moment, the protagonist debates on surrendering.
This is the moment they decide they’re not ready to let the enemy win and decides to fight back.
They’re ready to take the first step toward the end, determined to see it through, no matter the consequences.
Reveals Something That Changes Everything
Here the protagonist finds the consequences are much worse than what they had expected.
The story now takes a turn into the unknown, where neither the reader nor the character is sure of how it will all end.
This provides the story the momentum it needs to push forward and once again hooks the reader’s interest keeping them engaged to the end.
Is there anything else the midpoint can do to keep our readers interested?
FOR FURTHER READING
Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.
She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.
She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.
From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.
She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.
When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.