What to Include
Now’s the time to show readers why solving the problem matters to your MC. Give them a view into your MC’s thoughts and feelings or have the MC tell someone in the story.
Show your MC trying to solve the problem. Shoot for three attempts, with the last try ending in success. If you have more than three, readers may feel the story’s too long. Any less and it won’t seem like much of a problem.
With each attempt – except for the last – show the problem getting worse. With each failure, your MC should learn something that helps him or her solve the problem in the end.
Include some good things, too. Readers will react more strongly when things go bad again.
No Easy Way Out
Your MC needs to struggle. Not only because it’s more fun, but because that’s what it should take for your MC to learn or change enough to fix the problem in the end.
Make things as miserable as you can for your MC. Think of the most embarrassing or scary or painful thing that could happen in the situation you’ve created. Readers will love it and you’ll have fun writing it.
If your MC has to choose something, don’t make it an obvious choice. Readers shouldn’t know the outcome. Make it a tough decision for your MC with good and bad things on both sides.
Keep It Moving
Remember when I suggested you picture the story in your mind and write what you see? It’s good advice and you should. However, don’t write everything you see. Readers don’t need to know the color of your MC’s room or what your MC does to get ready in the morning. They’ll fill that in for themselves, if it matters to them. If it doesn’t, they won’t even think about it.
From Scene to Scene
Your MC’s attempts to fix the problem probably won’t occur in the same place. There’s probably some time in between, too. To get from one attempt to the next, use a phrase like “the next morning” or “when (MC) got to (wherever the next scene takes place)”.
Sometimes you’ll imagine things that happen in between your MC’s attempts to solve the problem. Sometimes these things affect what your MC does next. Maybe your MC thinks about, discovers, or remembers something that changes everything.
If the time in between attempts includes trouble, you should probably show it in another scene. If it doesn’t, it’s probably best to summarize what happened and move on to the next attempt.
Okay, that’s it for the middle. It’s time to work on the Ending.
To practice the tips and techniques on this page, go to the activities page For Middles.