Stranded in the Middle of Your Novel?

Are your feeling stranded in the middle of your novel? You started out strong with loads of ideas and great promise for the beginning of your story. Then you jumped into the exotic world of the middle with both feet. And now, you feel like you’re slogging through quicksand in the middle of your story? Don’t despair. The middle of your novel is the testing ground for your protagonist (and for you as a writer…). It’s the place in your story when you begin to strip away what’s not working for your protagonist and begin providing her with what she’ll need to prevail at the end. 


Territory of the Antagonists

Think of the middle of your story as the territory of the antagonists — internal and external. This is the place where those people, places, beliefs, things that oppose her:

  • trip her up
  • interfere with her forward progress toward her goal
  • challenge her
  • are often stronger than she is 

Exotic World of the Middle

Show the reader this exotic world. The more completely strange and challenging the setting of this new world, the better. The new world performs the primary function of the middle to induce change. As such, it is ta place of struggle and resistance. Whereas the setting in the beginning usually reflects the protagonist, this new setting has new rules, customs, expectations, and punishments that reflect the antagonist’s world. To be successful in the end, the protagonist must learn to master them.  

Antagonists and Allies

To keep the middle balanced, as much as she is faced with antagonists (as many as needed), she also is supported by allies (one or more). These foes and supporters reflect lessons the protagonist needs to learn and the abilities she must assume to be success in the end. These secondary characters often reflect the natural and usually hidden abilities in the protagonist. They mirror potentials within the protagonist she has forgotten or lost or was robbed of. 

Scene Ideas for the Middle

When you feel lost, stuck, stranded in the middle of your novel, try not to panic. Don’t make you or your story into a problem. Instead, try creating scene ideas in the middle of your story for the following: 

  • advice given
  • clues shared
  • lessons learned
  • beliefs expanded
  • abilities advanced
  • strengthens developed