This time last year I wrote about middles with the aim of helping you master your mindset.
This year I’m thinking more about the actual writing: how to write the middle of a story.
The inspiration for this prompt is unashamedly borrowed from James Scott Bell’s immensely readable ebook Write Your Novel From The Middle. It’s well worth the few dollars to pick up a copy of this book.
Even if you don’t have your copy yet, you can use Bell’s revelation that the middle of a story often involves a moment of introspection, to strengthen your short story writing today.
Write a literal or figurative Mirror Moment into the middle of your story.
- We often get lost in the telling of the middle of a story because events have become so complicated. The premise has given way to your character taking action. More characters may have stepped into the story. You’ve probably let your character try something and fail at least once. Now what?
- Give yourself, your reader, and your character a break by pausing for a moment in the middle to ponder what’s at stake.
- Don’t be afraid to write this in a cliched way the first time through. Allow your character to catch a glimpse of their ragged self in a shop window as they drag their poor hunted body through town away from the bad guys. Show a mother catching her mother’s face looking back at her from the mirror right as she’s about to scream at the kids some more.
- Let your character wonder what has become of them, and what will happen if things go on like this; if they don’t make a change.
- This can be a question they ask themselves or the person with them.
- This can be a question about their character or their physical circumstances. Or both.
- Write the mirror moment and ask yourself: what if things go on the way they are, for this character. What does that require me, as a writer, to do?
You don’t have to keep the mirror moment in the story as a literal moment of reflection, but it’s a useful exercise to get yourself back on track as you plough your way through the messy middle of any story.
If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.
So what did you come up with?
Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!