1. SR87

    SR87 New Member

    Sep 14, 2021
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    Marathon In The Middle - where to start?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by SR87, Sep 14, 2021.

    I have ideas of how my story starts up and ends, I am left with filling the middle.

    Now, I follow Jerry Jenkins and trust his opinions regarding the importance of the MitM to avoid a sleeping audience. The thing is I am sort of lost on how to fill it in the first place.
    Surely you may think, just add bumps and sharp turns for the main character.

    I wish to know if there are ways to come up with those, and to not make them dull. Expecially the dull part: Mr Jenkins is very clear on the subject.
  2. AntPoems

    AntPoems Contributor Contributor

    Jun 13, 2021
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    Philadelphia, PA
    Hello, @SR87. That's a pretty common problem, and I'm not sure there's a one-size-fits-all solution. A good middle will depend heavily on the specifics of your story and characters, so there's not much we can do to help without knowing them.

    There is one very important bit of advice I've heard and taken to heart, though. Don't just use the first idea that comes to mind. Or the second, or the third. Those are likely to be the easy, obvious ones, and therefore--dull! Take some time and brainstorm a list of a dozen, a score, even a hundred ways your plot could twist and turn on its way from beginning way to end, then weigh and compare them. The most interesting ideas are likely to be ones that you had to work to figure out. Take your time, and remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

    Good luck, and happy writing!
    B.E. Nugent likes this.
  3. sarkalark

    sarkalark Member

    Aug 29, 2021
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    What does Mr. Jenkins say on the matter? I'm not familiar with him. From what I've looked up the proposed solution to the "marathon in the middle" dilemma seems to be outlining.

    I don't think you "fill in" the middle. If there is no story there don't try to pad it. I've heard the argument that there can be story without conflict. There was a cartoon with four frames of pictures. In frame one there is a vending machine. Then you see a person who buys a soda and gives it to a friend. Pretty boring story, right? Would it be more interesting if the machine jammed or the person had no coins? Probably not. What is the weight to your story? What is the obstacle to be overcome? Why is it a bad thing if your characters fail?
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Dec 24, 2019
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    Way, way out there
    Make sure your story has a powerful enough conflict, an interesting character web, and if you're so inclined a good theme or perhaps several to explore. As long as you've got at least the first two things, you should be able to make a good series of clashes to flesh out the rising action sequence through the second act.

    Another way to look at it, try breaking act 2 into three acts instead. Often the mid-story slump happens because act 2 is long and not interesting enough. If you use a 5-act structure instead of 3, and each act has it's own rising action leading to its own mini climax, each being larger and more powerful than the previous one, you should be able to create a story that never flags.

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