Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Writing the Book, Part Three: The Middle

Last week, I began the Writing the Book series with the idea and the beginning. Now, let's move on to the middle.
The middle of your book is the main chunk of the story, where your character goes through some sort of struggle or journey and works towards overcoming their problem. Along the way, they'll probably meet some other people, undergo some minor ups and downs, and then (hopefully) face some sort of tragedy. All of this will then lead up to the climax and end of your book. Yay! So let's look at some elements of a good middle.

1. Growth. Throughout the middle chapters of your story, your character(s) should be growing or changing, and while you don't need to shove that change in the readers' faces, the change still needs to be seen. For example, let's revisit the book I talked about in the first post in this series: The Selection, by Kiera Cass. In the beginning, the main character, America Singer, is completely against the idea of the Selection and Prince Maxon. But as the story moves, America slowly begins to change her views and open her heart. When a person goes through something in life, they tend to come out of it different than they were before. Character growth is essential in your story because it's realistic.
2. Essential action and conflict. The middle of your story is that awesome place where you get to move the story forward through a bunch of cool scenes. Maybe you have some fighting or battle scenes planned. Maybe a minor character gets kidnapped. Maybe your MC and her friends have a food fight. Who knows! The thing that matters here is that these scenes need to be essential. There's nothing worse than reading a book where the beginning and ending are great, but the middle is nothing but boring, average page-filler scenes to get you to the climax. Think of your plot as a roller coaster ride. Do you you really think people will have fun on the ride if the longest part is nothing but straight tracks and a few teeny bumps? No, they won't! The middle of your book needs to be packed with action and conflict that is essential to the story and moves it forward in a swift, seamless matter.
3. Tragedy. While this is not necessary for every plot, it's generally necessary for most plots. In a lot of books, the tragedy of the story is generally the transition from the middle chapters to the ending chapters. (See The Hunger Games, The Archived, Unremembered, etc. I'd explain those three in detail but then I'd reveal some nasty spoilers.) But what I will say about these three wonderful, fantastic books is that the middle chapters of these stories all end with some sort of tragedy or event that sparks a change in the main character, causing them to act upon that change. Those actions then lead into the climax, and ultimately, the end of the book. In my first book, my main character goes through a sudden death, and her reaction to that death leads to a conversation during which she remembers something that in turn leads to the climax and end of the book. Tragic events are effective in the sense that they move your plot forward, as well as affect your characters and audience.

So, there you have it. Three very important elements you should make sure to include in the middle chapters of your story. On Thursday, I'll discuss the very important elements of--you guessed it--the end! Until then, happy writing! :)

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

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