To put it simply, the middle of your novel is the story. You’ve set the stage, burned your bridge, and now you’re ready to tell the story (using as few cliches as possible, please).
There’s no set length for the middle. There’s no standard point-of-view. It’s just a stack of blank pages waiting for your words. There are some universal writing truths that apply to anything you write (show, don’t tell; active, not passive), and then there are some more middle-specific tips. Here are a few for your consideration:
– Goal/Motivation/Conflict: Every story needs these three things, but you should also put them in each chapter. Don’t just write to fill the pages – move the story along.
– Up the tension: As you add conflict to each chapter, figure out a way to increase it. Start with the hero’s papercut, end with his car blowing up.
– Act, react, repeat: As you up the tension, remember to give your readers a breather. Make something happen, then let everyone react. Then do it again, and again, and again.
– Raise the stakes: Similar to upping the tension, give your hero more to lose. The story may start with him wanting to save the family dog, but by the end he’s just trying to stay alive!
A few good ideas, no? Now how about some things to avoid:
– Unbelievable tension/conflict: If you have a physically fit character, no one will believe that a broken car ruins his life (wouldn’t he just ride a bike?). Someone with a close knit, supportive family isn’t going to stop talking to his dad after a disagreement about house paint. Make sure the tension/conflict fits the character.
– Act, act, act: No one makes decision after decision after decision without ever stopping to consider the consequences (or what they want to do next). If there’s no time to reflect, to see what motivates your characters, it not only makes the actions hard to believe, it wears the reader out.
– Every single detail: It’s a given that everyday the hero will get up, get dressed, and eat something. We don’t need to see it. Give us a glimpse (to help us understand him), then move on to the important stuff.
These are just a few of the thousands of tips you’ll read about writing. These happen to be my favorites (and some of the mistakes that I regularly see when editing manuscripts). Later this month I’ll recommend some much more in-depth books on the subject. Until then, this is a great place to start!