Monday, 19 December 2011

Middles

Lately I’ve seen people blogging about writing beginnings and writing endings. What I haven’t seen are posts on writing middles. Sure, they’re not as important as the beginning or the end, but you still want to get the middle right, lest you end up with a sagging middle section.

When you’re writing the middle, it’s important to keep in mind that as the climax is the most dramatic point in your novel, and thus, the middle should be building up to that high level of tension. In school, my teachers used to use a bell curve to demonstrate the level of tension in a novel:



As you can see, the middle should be constantly rising in tension in the lead up to the climax at the end of the story. But how can we make sure that the middle is doing its job?

Twists: Having a couple of twists mid-way through the story will keep up the momentum, and more importantly, keep pages turning.

Cliff Hangers: They don’t have to be big cliff hangers, but you should try to have a cliff hanger at the end of every chapter. It could be something small, such as “Aunt Bessie’s famous chicken pie doesn’t actually have chicken in it… so what’s in the pie?”

Conflict: Having conflict raises tension, which is what we want in the middle. Perhaps two main characters have a massive argument and part ways, or there’s a big fight scene.

Of course, there are many other ways of raising tension during the middle of the book. How have you kept the middle exciting? Share your techniques in the comment section!

4 comments:

  1. LOL, love the Aunt Bessie line. XD

    As for my middles, I have lots of things to keep them exciting—I find it most fun to come up with those stepping stones, to increase the tension and lead to that climax. It's my ending, between the false climax and the actual climax(last 3/4s of the book, approx.), that's needed work, in the past. It dropped in tension, and the denouement was too rushed and fell flat. =/ I completely reworked it in rewrites, though, so it's much better. ^_^

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  2. Middles do NOT make my heart smile. Somehow I aways go too fast, and the ending is over before it's even begun. *facepalm*
    I do love twists, though. They are so fun. :D

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  3. Amanda: Interesting! I've never had too much trouble with endings. I'm glad you sorted it out :)

    Constance: I used to go too fast as well, so on one WIP I added pretty much everything I could think of to stretch out the novel... and then to cut back because it became too long!

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  4. @Matt- Yeah. I DID add pretty much everything I could think of. *needs to think of more things, obviously*

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