Muddling Through The Middle

The middle of the book can be a fun experience or a stressful experience. Many times a writer will reach the middle and have no idea where to go next. Sometimes these stories remain unfinished as the writer goes on to another story. And, the vicious cycle continues…

Many successful writers do not plot and yet can pen book after book and keep the readers begging for more. But, a bigger number of writers, like myself, cannot do that without painfully scratching page after forced page to reach the end. Trust me, if you have this “dreaded middle stall” syndrome, you need to plot out your book. I hear you screaming “I can’t do it!” Yeah, yeah. Been there, said that. Here’s the secret.

You do not have to plot out every single detail of the book. BUT, you do need to have what I call a bare-bones outline. I use a three act structure for my book.

I get more out of plotting on paper than on a spreadsheet, but either method is fine. I write each act on a separate page.

For ACT I, I list the inciting incident and the turning point. Just brief sentences.

ACT II goes at the top of a new page. This is the “middle” of the book. I usually have about six items here. A turning point, a secret revealed, a growing closer together scene, another turning point, another secret revealed, black moment.

ACT III includes a decision made which shows character’s growth, climax, plot twist (usually a sacrifice) which leads to resolution of the goal, and finally the romance ends in an “ahh” moment.

When plotting this way, don’t get all caught up in writing too much. Just brief bullet points is all that is needed. Once you have this structure, you will know which scenes to write to move toward the next bullet point. This will keep your story flowing and will also allow plenty of room for new scene ideas.

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