Many writers worry about developing the middle of their novel or they simply lose motivation when they start thinking about what to write about. Even if you know the beginning and end of your novel, it can be difficult to connect the two and build an exciting plot inbetween. The best way to begin tackling this issue is to understand pacing and how your novel should be structured.
The basic structure is as follows:
This includes the introduction, the description of the everyday life of your main character, and an explanation of your world. During this time you can focus on showing your audience what your world is like and how your characters interact with it on a daily basis. You can start to set things up.
This is your protagonist’s call-to-action. What forces your character to change their usual behavior? This is when your character decides to get in the action OR they are forced to get in on the action. I’ve written a longer post about this here.
There’s something your protagonist needs to do or there’s a journey they must embark on. This doesn’t always mean an actual physical journey; it can be an emotional one depending on your story. The point is that they must set out to learn something as a result of the inciting incident. There’s some knowledge, item, etc. they must acquire.
There should be obstacles, problems, trouble, conflict, etc. for your protagonist. This will make up most of the middle of your novel. What stands in your character’s way? What is preventing them from finishing their quest and returning to normal?
What your character has learned or how they have developed over the course of your novel is often revealed during the critical choice. They should have to choose between two paths and their choices should reveal something about them. These choices will change the course of the novel.
This is the highest point of tension in your story, when your character has to deal with the critical choice they have made. Your story generally builds up to this point.
The reversal is a result of the critical choice and the climax. The story is lead in a new direction because of these things. The events leading up to the climax begin to cool down and something happens that helps lead to the resolution. This is usually when your protagonist reverses the situation and finds a way out of the problem (or doesn’t).
The resolution should lead into a new stasis for your characters. This doesn’t mean that everything ends up good for your characters; it just means that things have come full circle in a way. The story arc for his particular story is closed and lessons have been learned.
Once you begin to understand the structure of a story, you can begin focusing on the middle chunks of your novel, specifically the inciting incident-reversal stages.
Here are a few tips to prevent your novel from failing in the middle: