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Stuck In The Middle

Banes at 12:00AM, Nov. 17, 2016
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Stuck in the Middle - Midpoints

I've often found the Midpoint of a story difficult to find and difficult to write.
It's one of the big three pillars in story structure, and it's the
most subtle.

The Midpoint doesn't have the “dragged into a new world” of Plot Point One, or the “All is Lost” tragedy of Plot Point Two. It's a more understated change of direction.

And it's the part that is often done wrong or not done at all, and causes stories to run out of steam, as a writer or a reader.

Strong Midpoints serve several functions and have several hallmarks:

- Raising the Stakes
- Changing the direction of the story/altering the Protagonist's goal
- The plot crosses paths with the theme
- A “false victory” or “false defeat”
- A more “public” moment for the Protagonist. Often a kiss or a party happens! Or a kiss at a party!
- Protagonist is completely committed to their new direction

The “plot crossing with the theme” connects to the kiss that often comes at the midpoint in stories. Old school screenwriters apparently used the phrase “sex at sixty”, meaning page 60, the midpoint of a feature length film.

Of course, the midpoint doesn't have to fall at exactly the middle of the page count or running time…Vince Giligan of Breaking Bad fame seems to write his first halves a lot longer, taking his time with setups and accelerating towards the end.

A montage often shows up here, like the training montage in Rocky or the “relationship montage” in many romantic comedies.

Whaddaya say? Are midpoints hard to identify? Do you think they're important to identify? Have you ever read a midpoint you noticed and liked, or written one you're particularly happy with?

Happy Thursday…hey, we made it past the midpoint of the week!

-Banes

comment

anonymous?

Banes at 7:11AM, Nov. 21, 2016

Thanks Stellar!

Stellar at 10:55PM, Nov. 17, 2016

use imgur Banes (=

bravo1102 at 4:47PM, Nov. 17, 2016

And then there are J.J Abrams movies where the middle is like five minutes, something explodes and we're off on 45 minutes of climactic chase.

Bruno Harm at 8:52AM, Nov. 17, 2016

hmm. I hadn't really thought about this much, But I did just cross a good midpoint in my third adventure. It was of the "Change of direction" variety. Hopefully this means my writing is getting better..

Genejoke at 7:14AM, Nov. 17, 2016

Interesting. I'm currently editing the mid point of blood and water and it definitely falls into the change of direction for the protagonist as well as a victory and a defeat...

KimLuster at 4:57AM, Nov. 17, 2016

Another great article!! Midpoints... another one of those things that's sorta hard to define but yet we know exactly what it is... It's when Romeo and Juliette have their only real moments together (and 'do it', of course...) Midpoints can make you restless if they last too long... Strange, I had a super-romantic friend who wished romance movies would stay at the midpoint forever (you know, no crisis, no appearance of an ex to cause trouble, no breakup..) - Just a continous series of conversations, date scenes, walking along river banks, etc, until the movie just ends with them settling down in a house to live happily ever after... *Blech!!!*

bravo1102 at 1:17AM, Nov. 17, 2016

This is the long boring part where you go to get popcorn and a drink refill. I usually go with upping the ante or having a set back for the protagonist. I an pretty simple minded so whatever is between the beginning and the climactic event is the mid point. I have to keep it simple since I write such awful crap.


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