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!