Even though novels have a beginning, middle and end, most of the novel is going to be the middle. I wonder why it is always the most difficult? The place where I get stuck? Jim Butcher calls it The Big Swampy Middle, but I like to call it The Blubbery Fat Roll between the beginning and the ending.
If the appetizer gets our mouths watering, and the dessert is the sweet and satisfying finish to look forward to, how can I turn the main course into something special?
Introduce the the protagonist and the antagonist.
Present the setting and story world.
Establish the tone and mood of the story.
Hook the reader to keep reading.
The "Trials and Tribulations" stage.
Character relationships develop and deepen.
The stakes are raised making the final confrontation more meaningful.
Set up for the final confrontation between protagonist and antagonist.
The final battle/confrontation.
Tie up any loose ends.
Give a satisfying ending.
The goals of Act 2
Connect the beginning of the story to the climax and ending.
Make the climax more meaningful by raising the stakes.
Keep the reader reading, and make them wonder what will happen next.
What is the best way to keep reader's reading?
Make things worse for your protagonist.
What?! No! I love my protagonist.. they already have this big meanie trying to ruin their goals, why would I make it worse?
It makes the protagonist face their weaknesses and fears, and grow through their struggle.
Wow, that's a lot like what I go through when I try to WRITE the middle.
Ideas for making your protagonist hurt:
Strengthen the opposition.
Crush their spirit.
Get them get lost.
Jeopardize their professional pursuits, or have them get fired.
Make them face something in their personal life that they must deal with.
Have them get hurt physically.
Test them so they must face their greatest weaknesses/fears.
Build the conflict, by making the obstacles more difficult.
Have an unexpected enemy show up to cause some havoc.
Have a friendly character turn out to be an enemy.
Add a ticking clock.
Make them face something that will change their way of thinking.
Other (less torturous) ways to make it interesting:
Add a subplot, such as romance, or a relationship conflict.
Plan a big event to take place in the middle of the story.
Have an action scene take place.
Add a new character that will be relevant to the story ending.
Have an enemy character become become friends with the protagonist.
Raising the Stakes
Could the protagonist's failure mean drastic consequences?
Could the task be made greater/bigger, seemingly more impossible?
Could the protagonist be faced with a major dilemma?
Could the protagonist be made to face their greatest weaknesses/fears?
Could the conflict be enlarged so more than just the main character is affected, perhaps their loved one, the town or the world?
Jim Butcher's Live Journal is a cornucopia of writing genius.
Wishing on Daisies Progress: 9 days left
Current Progress: 14391 words
Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7- Complete.
Chapter 8- Still in Progress
Do you have any struggles when writing the Muddle Middle? How do you get through them?