The middle of the book isn’t just there to keep the beginning and the end from bumping into each other. It’s an opportunity to make the book your own. Think of the first part of the book as a set-up for the middle, and the middle as the set-up for the black moment. The midpoint is where your protagonist must face his inner demons. It’s where the specters from his past thrust themselves to the forefront and demand to be dealt with.
Here are a few ideas to help you shore up that drooping middle.
- This is where you have a chance to showcase why the hero is the way he is. It’s your opportunity to flesh him out and make him more human, and let the reader have a peek at his backstory. Let the reader get closer to the hero.
- Throw barriers in the protagonist’s path. Make those obstacles tough, but not insurmountable. You need to save the impossible for the black moment.
- Whatever you throw in the character’s path, make sure it fits in on more than one level. Don’t pull something out of thin air and plop it in. Have the layers of your plot and character converge. The obstacle has to be something that makes the character realize that what he thought he wanted, isn’t what he really wants.
- This is where he learns the thing he wants has a huge price attached to it and he has to decide if he wants to pay that bill. It’s the “OMG, what was I thinking?” moment. Make sure the character’s response fits with their personality.
- This is the time the protagonist discovers there’s something wrong with his goal. This is a great place for a major plot twist. With the price of the goal high and with it looking as if it’s the wrong one, twist it so he doesn’t have a choice or a major monkey wrench is thrown in.
- It’s important to take the reader on the journey with the protagonist. If it’s important to the character, it will be important to the reader.
- As you peel away the layers, add more that propel the story forward. Be sure to keep the motivation strong. If the motivation wanes, the middle will sag and the reader will lose interest.
- Have the reader and the character learn something at the same time. It will keep the reader involved in the story and make them feel more a part of the journey.
- Along with the barrier, you may consider introducing or reintroducing the mentor. Sometimes a fresh face can stir interest and bump up the action. But, be careful that the insertion is logical.
- Don’t forget to escalate the action and the conflict. After all, this is the set up for the dark moment and the black moment.
These are just some ways to bolster the center section of your manuscript. What do you do to keep the middle from sagging?