The Middle: Now What Do I Do?


One of the most challenging things about writing a story is making the middle, the second act, as vital and focused as the beginning was.

Whatever was problematic in the opening of your story has to become more and more problematic in the middle, until, at last, the problem is so urgent that the climax is forced by the choices the character made and the actions she took. This is the part where many stories—and more novels—go off the rails. It’s the part where the writer must keep in mind that story is, as David Mamet says, “the essential progression of incidents that occur to the hero in pursuit of his one goal.”

In other words, if it ain’t essential, trash it. If there is more than one goal, cut them. If the work in question is a novel with subplots, decide if the subplot’s protagonist has more than one…

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