I love stories. I love everything about stories and creating them. I love thinking of characters, their backstories, their defining characteristics and features. I love writing out the scenes that are stuck in my head and finally putting down to words the images I can see in my mind. Basically, I just flipping love storytelling and story craft.
I hate writing the middle section of stories, though. I am so excited to start the story and introduce the reader to the people/world I am creating, and the end is easy because I know how I want my stories to end. But the middle part is harder for me. How do I keep the interest going strong from beginning to end? How do I keep it from feeling flat in comparison? WHAT MUST I DO?
There is tons of advice out there to help you out with boosting up the connection from beginning to end. Here are 6 of the ones that have helped me the most.
Plot out the story before you start writing
I used to never plot out my stories because I would think about them constantly and felt like I had everything (mostly) figured out. But I have learned that plotting out my story before ever writing out a single word is the single most helpful tool I can use.
You don’t need to have every single, tiny detail plotted out; just a rough idea of the direction you want your story to go is super helpful. It helps you stay on track or even see the different paths you can take. This will also help you figure out what you can add into your middle sections to keep the story strong.
Start out small and build from there
I have been guilty of feeling like I need to have an incredibly dramatic hook in the first couple chapters. I would put all the drama and tension in the start because I wanted to interest my audience from the get-go. But that means I didn't have anything left for the rest of my story.
Start out small. Give your reader just enough of a hook to pull them into your world, but spread out the rest of the tension. Keeping in the drama throughout your story means your plot will stay strong until the very end.
Write a false end
I only recently heard about this tip, but I wish I had learned about it sooner! Writing a false end basically means that when writing your story, you are writing with the intention that the middle section will appear to be the end.
But plot twist (literally), it’s not. Your hero’s best friend was actually the villain all along and betrays them in the second act. The super rare artifact they just found is actually a fake, and the real one was stolen years ago. Whatever genre you are writing, false ends work in everything and still work with your overall plot.
Add in tension and obstacles
I don’t know about you, but I love stories where there are tons of obstacles and chances for the main character to grow through them. Throw in some new challenge that they have to overcome or a situation that they were trying desperately to avoid but it happens anyway.
This gives you tons and tons of space to further develop your characters and show off their strengths. Or highlight their weaknesses and the path or growth they have to take in order to overcome this new obstacle.
Stay focused on the main character’s goal
This is where the plotting before comes in handy. Whether you are writing a full-length novel or a short story, your main character’s goals are the driving point of the story. You know the starting point for their goal and how it will resolve in the end. But what about the middle?
Here is where you refocus on the motivations and goals. Re-affirm them and bring the reader’s attention back to this plot. They might have forgotten what the goal is since it was introduced in the beginning.
Add a subplot
Or add in a totally new and different subplot! There is no reason why you can’t throw in a new path for your characters to go down. This can be something resolved quickly that may or may not help them reach their ambitions. Or it can be something that takes multiple chapters (or books, if you are writing a series) to resolve. You can do anything with this new subplot, so have fun with it!
Writing should be fun and as much of a break from the world as you want it to be. Even the dreaded middle part should be fun because it is the bridge that helps everything make sense.
So, don’t worry about it! Everyone struggles in different ways, and you shouldn’t feel bad about the portions that aren’t your strong suit (don’t get me started on actually sitting down to write all the stories I have in my head). Try out different tricks and adjust them to work for you. Share them with your fellow writers in the comments or in our forum (please help me, I need all the tips and tricks).
About the Author: Veronica is a 2020 English graduate, so please give her pats on the back for surviving that strange, strange year. She loves reading anything historical fiction, fantasy, romance, or a combination of those three. When she isn’t reading books back to back, she spends her free time playing Dungeons & Dragons, watching Critical Role, and buying an unnecessary amount of dice sets (all the shiny math rocks!!!)