This week: Reviving Your Story's MiddleEdited by: Joy
More Newsletters By This Editor
1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions
“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”
― James Michener
“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.”
― John Cheever
“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Hello, I am Joy , this week's drama editor. This issue is about lifting up a sagging middle of a novel or story with drama.
Please, note that there are no rules in writing, but there are methods that work for most of us, most of the time.
The ideas and suggestions in my articles and editorials have to do with those methods. You are always free to find your own way and alter the methods to your liking.
Welcome to the Drama newsletter
We writers usually find the middle of the story or novel the most difficult section to write. The beginning and the setup may rock as well as the planned-out ending, but the middle may have the unlucky fate of wandering off, struggling, getting mushy, and as the editors put it, sagging. That may very well be why some writing coaches advise the
Let’s take a famous novel as an example to a middle that begins as if it's about to sag. In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, around the middle of the story, the protagonist Elizabeth Bennett visits her friend Charlotte in Kent. This part, while reading it for the first time, I thought it to be boring and unnecessary to the plot.
Yet, Jane Austen amended it quickly by getting an invitation to Lizzie to the home of Lady Catherine, Mr. Darcy’s aunt. This evolved into Mr. Darcy’s bad timing of a proposal topped off with his emphasizing of Elizabeth’s lower rank. I’ll never forget Elizabeth’s annoyance at Darcy at this point, which livened up the middle of the novel for me.
Not, all of us writers are as accomplished as Jane Austen; however, there are a few things we can do to energize a middle by adding or revising scenes that can evoke appropriate emotion.
Whatever the scene type may be--suspense, epiphany, dialogue, or contemplative—we have to keep in mind that this particular scene is the testing ground for the main conflict and actions, dialogue and strong thoughts or beliefs that can evoke powerful emotions. The middle of the plot –usually-- is where the main character or characters are directly influenced by a dramatic action, and they sense or discover their shadow side, so they can begin a transformation that will give a story its true meaning. This is because, while action can evoke emotion, the main character’s emotion can also evoke action.
Here in the middle of the story, while suspense scenes bring about more action and epiphany scenes impose new understandings, dialogue scenes can pull into light nuances about the characters and what they say, as well as what they do not say.
Let us just suppose that any one of us, say you, wrote a novel and you feel the middle is muddy and sagging and needs, at least a face lift. What can you do?
While, you can always shorten the middle and rush to resolution, you can also decide to work with what you have and make it better. Depending on the genre of the novel, you can certainly add more action but then, too much action here will not be meaningful for most genres.
Thus, let’s look at what you can do with your average to good novel about its sagging middle.
You can turn a character trait into a flaw to create emotion in the other characters and situations.
You can list the weaknesses of all characters and add another abrasive character= or characters to exploit those weaknesses.
You can add unexpected obstacles, physical or otherwise, and introduce interesting minor characters that may become protagonists in your next book or series.
You can offer a new discovery that might change the goals and understandings. A caveat here is not to go overboard on this one especially if you have a well-planned-out ending.
You can, however, suggest here uncertain outcomes and goals; although, this is done nowadays to flesh out too-short novels.
You can play around with the settings or change them, which may work especially well in coming-of-age stories, as each setting offers new promises and challenges.
Then, if you are really sure of yourself, you can create a subplot to add variety and extra information, such as a character learning a new skill that may have an effect on the main conflict.
Most importantly, even if you use one or more of the above suggestions, it is a very good idea to stay focused on the central conflict and your character’s true goals.
I certainly hope all our stories and novels will flow perfectly to their best conclusion.
Until next time!
Submit an item for consideration in this newsletter!
Have an opinion on what you've read here today? Then send the Editor feedback! Find an item that you think would be perfect for showcasing here? Submit it for consideration in the newsletter!
Don't forget to support our sponsor!
Thank you for reading our newsletters and for supplying the editors with feedback and encouragement.
This Issue's Tip: The Dark Night: About three/quarters of the novel or story, which is toward the end of the middle section, the dark night arrives. Here the character may suffer loss due to their blind action as their shadow still has a say over them.
To stop receiving this newsletter, click here for your newsletter subscription list. Simply uncheck the box next to any newsletter(s) you wish to cancel and then click to "Submit Changes". You can edit your subscriptions at any time.
and styles of storytelling.