Keeping the Middle Moving––Part I

You’ve heard of it––in more than one way. That awful, sagging, middle. In fiction, a sagging middle will bog down your story. Click to Tweet The reader may decide to stop reading. Not what you want. #keepmiddlemoving #amwriting

The best way to insure the middle of your story moves forward is to continually introduce more conflict. We’ve talked a bit about conflict before, but we’re going to go deeper in this short series. You already know that it is conflict which drives your story. This is especially important for the middle, where details tend to slow the action, and the characters tend to stagnate.

Now that we recognize the problem, let’s begin to look at the solutions. If you’ve mapped your story well, your protagonist has already passed through the first doorway of no return. They’ve made a critical decision, and should have already encountered difficulty.

Conflict means to battle, fight, war, skirmish, or struggle.

I like Randy Ingermanson’s “formula” for a story. Three disasters and an ending. Basically, three or four main events. The first disaster could be called the opening disturbance. Something happens to force the protagonist to move beyond his/her present circumstances.

The second disaster could be part of your solution to a drooping middle. When I wrote my novel, Meghan’s Choice, I put a natural disaster in the middle. That greatly helped keep my story moving, and Meghan made an important decision during that time. Also, another character, Rosalie, (who becomes Rose) is the protagonist in the second novel. She also made a critical choice, one that will be tested in the next book.

With action and reaction, raise the stakes. Even pantsers can “plan” something for that next scene to keep things moving. That’s what I do. I’m kind of half-plotter (I have to know where the story is going, but not all the things along the way), and half-pantser (sometimes the most astounding things just “come out” while writing).

One thing to always keep in mind: the protagonist has a goal, an objective. Conflict, whether natural, manmade, or accident, keeps the protagonist moving along in the story until the final climax, where the character finally obtains, in one way or another, their goal.

Two basic things to remember: 1) a novel is a record of how a character deals with imminent death. Now, I believe it doesn’t have to be literal death, although in suspense stories, it would be. But it can mean death to dreams, death to the way of life they’re used to, etc. And it can mean physical danger of literal death. 2) What action will the character take to prevent death, whether literal or figurtively? How can reaction elements to a scene help drive the action elements? The character makes a decision, usually toward the end of a scene, that drives the story to the next scene. Some people call this scene and sequel.

Scene by scene, you’ll want to raise the stakes for your protagonist and that’s what keeps the story moving. Click to Tweet #amwriting #keepmiddlemoving

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Mickey Mindset

Celebrating the Art of Disney Storytelling

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Joseph E Bird

Let's talk about reading, writing and the arts.

For a purpose

The blog site of Rick Wade


Where it is a good thing to be an outcast.


We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; let your light shine through your cracked pot. Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in and comes out.

loon watchman

stark raving sane.

Kelly F Barr

"A story without love is empty." -- Kelly F. Barr

Beautiful Life with Cancer

Discovering the Gift

Vonj Production

Bringing you love through spirit!

A christian dad blog

Just a dad following God's path


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.


easy reading is damn hard writing

Funny Dog Moments

Funny Tales of Cinnamon the Cute Guard Dog

Life Through the Big Screen

A podcast where I invite guests from all walks of life to discuss their favorite movies, and we use that film as a starting point to talk about deeper issues such as faith, politics, and social issues.

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

%d bloggers like this: