Keeping the Middle Moving––Part II

Last time, we talked about one way to keep the middle of your story from stagnating. Action and reaction, and the protagonist’s goal or objective. A major incident occurring in the middle of your story keeps it moving. How does it affect the protagonist? Click to Tweet #keepmiddlemoving #amwriting

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

In writing your scenes, keep in mind the basic three parts: beginning, middle, and end. Another way of looking at a scene is: 1) objective, 2) obstacles, and 3) outcome.


A scene objective is anything the POV character needs to accomplish to further the goal of avoiding death, either literally or figuratively. Does the character need to do something? Or nothing? What could that “thing” be? In my novel, Meghan’s Choice, my protagonist, Meghan, needs to grow up. Her father has given her an ultimatum to work for a year before she marries (this is 1871). What does she do? She impulsively takes the first job that comes along, quickly finding she’s in over her head.

Her main objective is to make her father proud of her. She experienced a relationship breakup at the beginning, just before the ultimatum. Both those events cause Meghan to move out of her comfort zone, her home, and try something new.


To keep the middle of that story from sagging, I threw in a tornado. This is Kansas, after all. Because certain things happening through the tornado, Meghan’s attitudes toward the two men she’s been courting begins to change. And, the character who will become the protagonist of the second novel, makes a career change. Both things happen in the middle of the story.

Squeeze tension and conflict in every scene? What kinds of things can you throw in? In my second novel, I’m throwing in a real villain who will do everything he can to keep Rose from the life changes she’s already made. But he’ll be sneaky about it. Her mother, a brothel owner, will also bring pressure to bear on her, by delivering a shocking revelation.


To every scene there are two basic outcomes: 1) the POV character gets what they want, or 2) they don’t get what they want.

In the first, the character’s objective is met. Let’s say you’re writing a romance, and girl meets guy and wants him to ask her for a date. But they’re at work, and there’s a company policy that co-workers in the same department can’t date. And just then, he comes over and slyly asks her out for a cup of coffee.

In the second instance, how can the girl get the guy to ask her out? That’s an obstacle. Does he know she’s interested? Has he expressed interest in her? What outcome would you give it?

You want your readers to worry about your characters. By creating in a difficult objective, throwing in high jumps, you can generate a satisfying outcome. Click to Tweet #amwriting #keepmiddlemoving

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