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Stuck in the Middle

Banes at 4:43AM, March 21, 2019
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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?

PaulEberhardt at 2:43AM, March 23, 2019

@KAM: That might have been me, or if it wasn't I arrived at that observation independently long ago. I guess if we were to look closely, we'd soon find other staple types of scenes cropping up at certain points in stories. It might be a way to help authors and readers alike to keep track of the plot structure - finding the midpoint that is. Pity that it tends to make things so terribly predictable. On the other hand, I often get stuck in the middle, whenever the midpoint has been going on for too long, so I really shouldn't be overly critical. ;)

ozoneocean at 10:41PM, March 22, 2019

It's different for every type of work...

JustNoPoint at 5:14AM, March 22, 2019

Depends on what you consider “doubt and confusion”. Typically it’s more like a mid boss. Sometimes it ends in positive momentum and sometimes it ends with negative momentum.

ozoneocean at 3:09AM, March 22, 2019

You mean story midpoints were they setup the moment of doubt and confusion? I don't enjoy that so much.

JustNoPoint at 5:05PM, March 21, 2019

I set up mid season finales so I place a ton of thought into the mid story. On a per issue basis it can vary with importance.

ChipperChartreuse at 12:56PM, March 21, 2019

At what I would consider my midpoint, my protagonist is pulled away from what she thinks she knows and changes direction. More learning opportunities for her as she then discovers her mother's non-human heritage and culture. She is biracial and raised only having known her father's "human" side of the family(elvan in actuality, my world build lumps humans and elves into the same group). Still at the beginning, so nowhere near drawing all of this life experience yet...

ShaRose49 at 11:16AM, March 21, 2019

My comic definitely has a middle which I’m working towards quickly—more like a training montage and maybe a change in goals for the one protagonist

KAM at 6:07AM, March 21, 2019

Years ago someone mentioned that sex scenes, if they happened in a book, were more likely to occur at the 1/3 and 2/3 sections of books. Checking a few books tended to support that observation.


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