Monday, January 17, 2011

The character in the middle

I’ve seemed to have hit a brick wall, in which I’ve begun to chisel, with this concept in my current WIP. I know where my character is at in the beginning. The first act, the first quarter of the manuscript when we’ve introduced the wonderful cast, we’ve begun answering that initial question. Now what?

The “What” brings us to the solid middle part of the manuscript, which takes up the bulk of the project, at least two quarters, or 100 pages of your manuscript. This means a lot of the focus, movement, and energy is involved in writing the middle. This can be the deal breaker of whether you have enough of a story for a novel length manuscript. Think at least 60,000 words or 200 pages. Most middles fall flat, so I’ve read. Since I’m only concentrating on Character in this post, I won’t be going into all the elements of the middle.

In preparing my MC for the middle, I first need to ask myself what circumstances led my MC here and what has changed as a result. What are his motives now, in the middle? My MC has gone deeper into the story and realizes his initial goal or motive has been shot to hell. Whatever the circumstances that led him here, to this moment, has made him consider, once again, his options. He needs to regroup, and re-strategize. Remember his flaws; this is important for conflict-tension-suspense in scenes. Change is hard and happens gradually, unless you fall in toxic ooze, or get bit by a spider, in which case the average is skewed. But for the rest of us, we have to gradually realize our flaws and work around or through them to find balance. Much the same way our characters do.

Some things to consider in regards to your character during the evolution of the middle:

1. Is there enough conflict-tension-suspense for your character to move forward 100 pages? (This is when subplots, character development scenes etc. come to play)

2. What has changed since the beginning that he didn’t realize this before?

3. Are his motives realistic…for him and the world you created?

4. Is he passionate about whatever the end goal is? Why? Remember, we don’t want the reader to keep asking why doesn't he just walk away. What are the stakes?

5. Don’t forget his flaws. How does this restrict his change or goals?

The writer’s goal in the middle is to have the reader squirming, crying, ogling, and ultimately cheering for your MC as he nears the climax. How do you keep your MC from falling flat in the middle?


  1. I've been to that 'now what' place. It's usually a make or break for me.

  2. Hi Chandara,

    I've just dropped by to let you know that I've nominated you for the Stylish blogger award.
    Continue doing the good work and pick your award up from:

  3. Marcy, I know what you mean.

    Hi Liz, Thanks! Let me go check it out.

    Thanks for your comments.


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