Last week, we addressed Beginnings and how important they are to your story. This week, we’re going to take a look at Middles.
The Middle of your story is essential to the overall success of the piece. First of all, it needs to build on the elements that began in the Beginning. The characters you introduced must move towards the end of the arc, and the conflict must be fleshed out.
While one definition of the Middle is everything after the introduction of the main characters/conflict and before the climax. Well, that’s not really ALL the Middle of your story is.
In the short story, maybe. But in longer stories and a novel, the Middle is the good stuff. The things that breathe life into your characters and show the progress being made to work through the conflicts.
In a novel, the Middle is easily most of the book. For instance, by the end of Chapter Six in Gone with the Wind, we’ve met the four central characters, we understand what each of them wants and expects from the others. We know the obstacles keeping each character from what they want. We’ve also witnessed the Beginning of the Civil War.
If you use Gone with the Wind as a blueprint for a novel, you can see that its climax is summarized in the last chapter. Therefore, Chapters Seven through Sixty-two – roughly eighty-six percent of the book could be called the Middle.
Seven through Sixty-two. Think about that. Yes, Gone with the Wind is an epic and a long book, but it is rich and detailed. When I read it for the first time when I was twelve, I decided right then and there that I would write a book, or books, that could move people the way it moved me.
A term used for the Middle of the story is Throughline. This means your story’s main plotline, which answers the question, “What happens to the Protagonist?” In a novel, many things will happen to the protagonist, and the Middle describes them.
In a short story, it is often the only thing that happens to your protagonist. The Middle of your story tells the tale of the journey. The Middle moves your protagonist from the introduction through the climax.