Write well. Write often. Edit wisely.
An excerpt from The Magic of Fiction
from Chapter 21, “Shore Up Soggy,
Middle chapters are the heart of story, the place where a story’s lifeblood is pumped, the place where the story’s essence is sustained. Without a strong and healthy middle, the opening and ending, no matter how attractive, ultimately have no life and therefore no impact on the reader.
Give your readers more than words. Give them riveting story.
If the middle doesn’t hold together, if it’s not able to support everything you hang on it, then the entire structure risks collapse.
Make your stories not only attractive on the surface, but also make them robust by giving proper attention to middle chapters. Fill those chapters with meat, with scenes and events with more substance than marshmallow fluff and more taste than dusty, dry sawdust.
Examining every scene and every chapter as if they’ll one day stand under the spotlight to be scrutinized by readers, critics, reviewers, and even students of literature will keep you on track as you edit long stretches in the middle of your stories.
Slogging through middle chapters can be tough, but look at editing those middles from another point of view: if you can’t stand spending time with them, imagine how your readers will feel. If your middle chapters aren’t compelling, there’s definitely something wrong with them. If even you want to hurry through them, that’s an indictment on the bulk of your story.
Middles can and should be strengthened, fashioned into taut powerhouses of sharp writing and engrossing fiction.
Middles should contain not only necessary back story but riveting front story, the current action of events unfolding even as readers press close to feel the danger, revel in the romance, or tremble with eagerness at what may be waiting at the turn of the next page.
Can you make your middle chapters just as spellbinding as your opening, as gripping as your climax, as rewarding as your conclusion? You can and you should.
Read more about middle chapters in The Magic of Fiction.
Join us all week—March 13 through March 17—for more excerpts and other Launch Week festivities to celebrate The Magic of Fiction.
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