His methods work.
His Ab Ripper X routine is fifteen minutes of 339 core moves.
Half way into the routine, you want to quit.
But you know you can’t, so you cheat.
Instead of doing all the reps in a series, you do it half heartedly or only half the move.
Fine. As long as you keep going.
Work harder the next time.
That’s they way you build up endurance.
The way you build your abs.
Doing all of the reps all of the time.
It’s the same with a middle of the novel.
You have to “work out” the middle of you book.
Get it lean and mean.
A lot of times the middle of a book gets fat and fluffy with nothing more than a rehash of what was set up in the beginning of the book.
The middle of the book IS the character journey. It’s where everything goes wrong, gets dark, scary and ugly. Where ALL hopes and dreams are crushed!
You have to up the stakes, advance the plot so it becomes darker and darker, worse and worse until you arrive at the Black Moment.
This is probably the hardest part of writing a novel.
Authors can easily plan a perfect opening with an exciting inciting incident, and determine the black moment then wind it all up with a Happily Ever After, but boy, how do you get the middle of the novel to hold strong?
One of the things we talk about at My Book Therapy is the story spine.
I say the spine begins with the pitch and the premise, along with all of your character development such as the wound –> lie –> fear journey.
A strong spine is key to a strong middle.
Conversely, a strong middle really supports the spine of your story.
So, how do you get a strong “middle?”
1. Do your homework up front. What is the story about? Go through My Book Therapy’s Lindy Hop and plotting road map.
2. Once you’ve determined what the story is about, build those internal and external conflicts. A lot of time when I read a book where the middle is soft and fluffy with no real tension it’s because the internal and external obstacles are not dark enough.
3. Turn the story inside out and upside down. What does your protagonist want? What’s this story about? Now, create all kinds of obstacles that keep them from that goal. The middle of the book is about overcoming those obstacles.
4. Develop darker and harder obstacles. Resist the urge to solve every problem. Resist the urge to have folks get along. I’m writing a novella right now and in the opening scene my hero and heroine are getting along so nicely, so in love. But on the rewrite, I realized they needed to have tension between them Right from the start. So I brought the problem I introduced in chapter two front and center to chapter one.
5. Drop the bomb. It’s easy to hold off too long on the big reveal. The wow moment that blows up everything for the protagonist. We often plan this as the Black Moment but many times that bomb can be dropped in to the middle of the book! Once you see where the story shrapnel lands, you can develop and new and even better Black Moment.
If you hold off on a reveal, the middle of the book can become muddy and the writing circular. Don’t keep rehashing the same issues with the protagonist while waiting to drop the bomb that his wife is the one who was kidnapped and being held for ransom.
Susie and I are teaching on the middle of the book at the ACFW conference if you’re interested in more. She also has some great lessons uploaded for Premium Members. Be sure to check them out.
With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.
A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 17 novels.
She lives in Florida with her husband and dog. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her latest release is Once Upon A Prince.
Go forth and write!
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