Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Act 2: without the sagging, dead ends, and wrong kind of disaster (as in boring)

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Aug• 14•16

I’m teaching at 10:30 this morning at the Willamette Writers Conference. For today’s schedule check here. For more information on the workshops I taught this weekend, please check back. Oh, and if attended my workshops, do drop me a line. Would love to hear from you. The conference, as always, was high-energy and brimming with fabulous writers.

  • The middle of a novel is not a mere transition rope bridgebetween the opening and ending, it is the heart of the story where the most complications and difficulties take place.

  • A potent middle creates anticipation and involvement building toward the climax.

  • The laws of cause and effect governs Act 2.

  • Middles reveal characters growing and changing and often desperate.

  • Act 2 must contain a pounding drive forward and increasing tension, suspense and complications.

  • The heartaches, complications, trials and obstacles in the middle become worse and worse.

  • Choices must be made.

  • The miseries in the middle become worse and worse.

  • The protagonist’s motivations increase and those motivations should create/exact a huge toll.

  • Act 2 will hold unanswered questions and usually some of them won’t be answered until the end.

  • Middles often contain a reversal of fortune along with a reversal of resolutions or goals forged in in Act 1. And yes, this is hard to pull off.

  • Middles often contain a character recognizing important truths about himself.

  • Middles also often contain the protagonist recognizing truths about another character’s identity, flaws or importance.

  • Act 2 can reveal the gulf/contrast between the protagonist and another character. Often these gulfs weren’t previously recognized or admitted.

  • Middles reveal the protagonist making difficult or excruciating choices as options are eliminated.

  • Middles reveal the protagonist facing internal and external conflict.

  • Whenever possible, use the pressure of time running out in the middle.

  • Whenever possible, reveal a betrayal or heartbreak in the middle.titanic breaking in half

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