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When the middle of your story sucks

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Dec. 7, 2018
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When creating a story, either for comics or novels, the easiest parts to write are usually the beginnings and ends because hell ,they’re the fun bits right? You burst out of the gate, ready and raring to go, your gaze on that sweet, sweet finale but there’s a slight hurdle. Your middle is sagging. So here are some tips you can employ to help you keep your readers motivated and interested!

Do an outline
Your story may change as you go, that’s a given, but before you get too far in, sit down and do an outline. This will give a good idea of where you might need to cut details or put some new ones in to keep it going strong. Plan for ups and downs for your characters and your readers. Plus, it helps prevent that dreaded hiatus syndrome, as you know what direction your headed in!

How’s your narrative structure?
Think about the kind of story you want to tell then do a small bit of research into what narrative structure might suit your idea. Have you set up the world and the characters? What is their problem and how do they begin to engage with that challenge? How many curves balls do you want to throw and in what order? This, along with your outline, will set you up with a strong skeleton and thus a strong story.

Get in there and F@*k it all up
The middle part of your story is where you, as a god, keep throwing the characters further and further down the hill, making sure they hit every bump on the way. It is your job to make it horrible. Of course, to what degree depends on the genre and tone you are writing in, but your characters have to fight tooth and nail every step of the way and this is the opportunity to ensure that they do. So when in doubt, get in there and get very, very dirty until you…

Make the character reach their breaking point
You do not stop making it worse till they are at the bottom of your proverbial hill, crying and cursing your name. When they’re completely broken, that’s when you know you’ve done your job and you can begin to find ways to help them back up. Maybe a friend reaches out to them, or they discover their inner strength. This is a fantastic time to have a pivotal character moment that really makes who they are at their core shine.

Be aware of your subplots
Subplots are there to provide context to the main story and can also help balance out the mood. You can use these as a way to explore the world more and the characters that might be helping the main cast/protagonist. The middle is a great time to get into some smaller side stories and provide some added weight to the stakes.

Move things forward
Still feeling the sag? Then time to get your scissors out and take to it like hairdresser fixing a bad haircut. If you’re creating filler for the sake of it, get rid of it. If you don’t know what it adds to the story, scrunch it up and throw it away. You can also ask some beta readers, (also known as brutally honest friends/fans) to give you feedback of where you can improve or where they think it is going. It can only serve to help you.

Have you ever struggled with the middle of your story? How did you fix the “middle sag”? Tell us in the comment section below!

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comment

anonymous?

ozoneocean at 7:31PM, Dec. 9, 2018

I love a big, round, long inflated middle in the stories I read and watch. The middle is the very BEST part! I fon't like great big long intros or stories that RUSH towards the end. A nice tasty, filling middle is the best a story can offer. Living in the world is the best part, not the foreplay or the climax. Let's just enjoy that pleasure and indulge in it for as long as we can XD

usedbooks at 1:15PM, Dec. 7, 2018

I suck at middles... And endings... Actually, not so good at beginnings. Why do I write? Lol

PaulEberhardt at 12:47PM, Dec. 7, 2018

When I happen to create an actual story, I'll likely have more trouble with the ending than anything else. That's because I seem to love dreaming up the middle so much my subconcious keeps begging me to go on and not end it yet. Or maybe I can't bring myself to a stop for some other reason, but, anyway: when the time for the ending comes I don't quite know how to end all that stuff that's going on in a way that makes sense any more - my originally intended ending will by then be far beyond the point of recovery, as a rule. On other, rarer, occasions I'll have a good middle and ending ready, but no idea how to start it in a way I can be satisfied with. But the middle never gives me any trouble, once I got the creative process going. The middle is where the heart is.

Banes at 12:39PM, Dec. 7, 2018

Yep, I have trouble with the muddled middle! This is good advice. I think generally, things get more urgent, ticking clocks come in, and often the protagonists "can't go back" anymore. Great stuff!

JustNoPoint at 6:42AM, Dec. 7, 2018

The middle and endings rarely give me issues. Well the end of the series has had me on ropes a bit but I think I have a nice concept now. For me the hardest part has always been the beginning. Getting the characters into the action. I should have probably started later into the story but I was inspired by some series that I got into later then went back and watched earlier stuff and it showed a more peaceful time and they transitioned into the epic. I guess that’s the slow burn. It’s a difficult way to start and I somewhat regret it now but I’m sure not going back now! The middle is all the fun stuff. I love the middle. My format is as follows. I attempt to set an issue limit of 30 issues per season. Each issue can be from 20-64 pages as needed. I consider this an episode. I prefer to do episodic formulas with at least one 2 parter per half season, a mid season finale and a season finale. Both can be multi parters. This way I hope readers have multiple closures.And stakes rise fluidly


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