We all know that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We’ve talked about the beginning over the last few days… that should be where you start your conflict or problem. But what happens next?
That’s your middle. Here’s where you turn up the heat on your character and really make life rough. You have to make it seem as if your hero will never overcome the obstacles thrown in his or her path. The fire has to get closer and closer, until… the climax. This is the toughest part of the conflict and where the hero wins out.
Then, you have the denouement. This is the part of the story between conflict resolution and the end of your tale, where all of the loose ends are tied up. In a novel, it’s where the sub-plots are resolved. You can see the progression in Freytag’s pyramid at right:
So, as you can see, middles are very important. You need to keep your reader reading, and if your story isn’t scary enough or funny enough or terrible enough, you won’t.
My advice is to plan everything in advance. Decide what your conflict will be, what the exacerbating factors will be, and on any sub-plots you might want to add into the story. Then, outline it. Don’t worry… It’s OK if your outline changes over time, but at least you’ll have a road map of where you’re going. If you have never written a novel before, believe me… You’re going to need it.
We’ll be talking more about story middles over the next few days. For now, just think about how your story should flow to a logical conclusion.