What exactly is a “sagging” middle?
- Place: Approximately the middle third of the story.
- Appearance: There is a lot of blank space on your computer screen because you can’t find the right words to move forward with the storytelling.
- OR a lot of space filled with clutter that really supplies too much info.
What is a “good” middle?
- Purpose: To pull the incredible opening you’ve created for the story to the perfect conclusion you imagine.
- Appearance: Picture a lemon meringue pie. A “good” middle is the thick, full-bodied layer of filling between the amazing meringue topping and the flaky crust.
- It’s the heart of the story where a lot happens.
Problems to watch out for:
- Characters: Speeding from one location to another and doing too much.
- OR becoming too chatty or too contemplative and not doing enough action.
- Secondary Characters:Introducing too many new characters.
- OR the new characters take over the story.
- Goal: Too easily reached.
- Conflict: Tension withers away, and the drama is reduced.
- OR too many obstacles are introduced.
- Plot: Not strong enough to build an entire storyline.
- OR too much to be completed in one book.
- Subplot: Not resolving the subplot before heading for the story climax.
- OR adding a subplot that dilutes the main plot too much.
- Sections: No beginning, middle, and end to the Middle.
Solving the problems:
- Characters: Determine the worst thing to happen to the protagonist at this point in the plot.
- Determine what would make the protagonist give up, and then make him keep going.
- Reveal a secret that could ruin everything.
- Secondary Characters: Determine which additional characters work best or best hinder the main characters.
- OR kill off a secondary character and show the effect on the protagonist.
- Goal: Increase the uncertainty about reaching the goal.
- Make the consequences of failure worse, that something important will be lost.
- The protagonist confronts another obstacle that forces a goal change.
- Conflict: Increase the plot complications and time pressure.
- Have the internal conflict affect the external conflict.
- Have the protagonist make a mistake that sets off a chain of unexpected events.
- Have the protagonist face betrayal, actual or suspected.
- OR reduce adding too many obstacles for the protagonist.
- Plot: Strengthen a fading plot by adding something startling.
- Use a plot element from the story opening differently.
- Change the pace.
- Subplot: Make sure the subplot can be resolved before the main plot’s resolution.
- Have this resolution create even more conflict.
- Beginning: Give as much attention to the Middle’s opening as you did to the story opening.
- Middle:Ratchet up the conflict and tension.
- End:This should be either the dark moment in the storyline or close to it. The conflict should be high and the tension strong.