Camp Tip #15 – Middles

Why are they so hard?

Depending on the length of what you’re writing, and you’re goal, you could still be in the beginning of your story, or smack in the middle of it. I’m really excited for this week, as I’m edging out of the beginning of the book. Some really exciting things happen in the beginning of my book, but as I get closer, I find myself having a harder time figuring out exactly what I want to say next. In the beginning its easier because its more structured. You set up your characters. You lay out your world. You delve into the core of the story. However, once you do that it can be challenging to decide what comes next. Do you develop the relationships between your characters, or do you amp up the stakes? Do you sprinkle in a bit more backstory or  do you dive into a subplot? It all depends, but any of those could be the right answer.


How to get through them. 


Middles can be hard, but they can also be so rewarding. When you’re in the middle of a book, you usually have some rapport with your characters, and are right in the thick of your story problem. However, this is where stray characters, or unclear direction can send you and your characters scrambling for what comes next. The thing to remember and focus on is developing the elements already established. As your characters enter the middle of the book, their relationships, ideals, and understanding of what’s to come should be deepening or decaying. Look at where you characters are physically, emotionally, or mentally in comparison from where they were at the beginning of the book. The same is true for your plot. How have things developed? What obstacles have emerged? Those are the things that are going to give this part of the book something  memorable. The beginning should have started with a bang, and the end should have something that lets it echo with your reader even after the last word is read, but the middle if not crafted well can fade away. So you need to make sure that the ebbs and flows of the middle make the reader want to wade in, and  then it keeps pulling them further and further

Preparing for what comes next. 

Middles do come to an end. Before they do, you need to make sure that the key elements are in place. You also need to make sure that the stake are fully set up. I was watching something recently. It was a superhero tv show, and as the story progressed I realized that I loved the characters, and I loved the story trajectory, but I just didn’t quiet feel the weight of the conflict. It took me a while to realize that the problem was that I didn’t believe the antagonist could beat the protagonist. Which is not what I wanted. I want the superhero to win, but as the audience I want to believe that the hero might lose, so that when they win I can justifiably cheer for them. There was a point where one of the other antagonist mention an alternative method of dealing with the hero. It wasn’t until that moment that happened that I believed that the hero of the story might lose, but once I did, everything that happened afterward took on more urgency. The best thing you can do for a character or a story is to make sure that the antagonist, whatever it is, seems like it could win. The greatest stories are always about protagonist overcoming great obstacles whatever they may be. This starts with you problem, evolves through your obstacles,  and culminates in your ending. Until next time, keep writing.

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