Posts Tagged ‘How to make the middle of your story more interesting’

Congratulations are in order.

For what? You have gotten past one first hurl in writing your first draft.

The first fifty pages is a tough to write and getting through it and not stopping or setting aside the story for a while is a feat that you should be proud of. Take a minute and reflect on your accomplishment.

Think about how all the little problems surfaced when you were writing it, how you overcame them completed the first Act of your book.

Act? What am I talking about?

I am talking about the Three Act Structure of a story. I would be surprised you never heard of this story structure unless you just started writing or are still young. Just to give a quick overview of the Three Act Structure:

  • Act 1: The Setup and concludes with the Inciting Incident followed by Plot Point #1
  • Act 2: The Confrontation concludes with a plot point #2
  • Act 3: The Resolution which concludes with the Climax and the aftermath

(The red dots are the Plot Points)

Wait! We didn’t cover this in the first fifty pages, what if I am not at the inciting incident by page fifty or plot point #1?

Okay, it’s the first draft. Second, don’t worry about it. We aren’t using the three act structure.

What! Why did you bring it up?

When you talk about the middle of the book, it usually referred to the second act of this structure.

The Three Acts is most known because of how movies and plays use it. I am not a fan.

Don’t get me wrong. Story Structure is important. There are many different ideas out there and in my opinion better ones.

Which one do you use?

I don’t use any of them. I am familiar with Story structure enough to not outline based on any given structure. You can easily fit my stories into three acts and others, but I don’t refer to any of them or make sure plot points hit as specific times. If you are paying attention to how far into the book you are, you will be able to tell when you are about to get to a point.

If you are paying attention to how far you are into the book, then we have a problem. The middle isn’t all that interesting.

Thus the Saggy Middle.

Here are some reasons why the middle is boring

  • Used to worldbuild and the plot doesn’t move forward
  • No Conflict
  • Minor Characters overshadow the main character
  • Tension slows down
  • Don’t know what to write next
  • Write yourself into a corner that isn’t interesting
  • You get bored with the story
  • New idea turns into a sub-plot that overtakes the main plot
  • Nothing Happens
  • The main character is boring or has told us too much about them too early

Those are just a few reasons. You will come up with your own as you write.

The #1 reason middles are uninteresting, at least for me, is they are hard.

So how do we fix them?

We will go into more depth on this next week, but here are a few tips.

  • Conflict (Doesn’t mean it has to be an action scene or battle. Tensions with other characters, or arguments)
  • Suspense
  • A new location
  • Interesting secondary or minor characters
  • Creating sub-plots (that don’t overshadow the main plot)
  • Raise tension as you build towards the exact middle and towards the climax
  • Slowly reveal more about the main character
  • Getting bored google search scene generators and generate an idea for your scene and write it. Don’t worry about making it fit, that is what later drafts are for.
  • Free Writing and not sure where to go, create outline
  • Have an outline but don’t know what to put between the bullets, write about the first idea that comes to mind

The more you write the more you are familiar with your story and the easier it will be to push through.

Don’t think that means writing won’t ever be hard. It is and always will be. It is just some stories come through easier than others.

Always remember that you can try to make something work or remove it in later drafts.

This is about getting that first draft written.

The more you know about your story the less editing you will need to do later. You need to get it written to be able to edit.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of your tips on how to make writing the middle easier. Please post a comment below, and if you liked what you read, please follow me. Today’s post is part of an ongoing series on First Drafts. You can find all the posts so far under the link First Drafts in the toolbar. I post a Weekly Writing Wrap-up every Monday on how my writing and story development week went. You can also find me on Twitter @timrgreenebooks.