You’ve reached the middle of your manuscript, but the story’s losing its spark. Now what? Read on because the staff at Writer’s Relief shares their bounty of plot devices for story resuscitation.
Welcome to RU, Writer’s Relief!
You couldn’t put a book down at first, but it’s losing momentum in the middle and you’re struggling to keep reading. Has this ever happened to you, as a reader? If you, as a writer, notice that your story is slowing down in the middle, don’t panic! There are plot devices you can use to ramp up the conflict and prevent readers from slamming your book shut before they reach the amazing ending you’ve written.
Plot Device #1: Add a love interest for your main character. This one’s tried and true, and lends itself to many new twists. Suddenly realizing feelings for another character could be exciting for your protagonist—or complicate their situation. Navigating through a new love interest can expose layers of your main character, particularly if they’re forced to step out of their comfort zone. How will your character react to these new feelings—act on them? Try to hide them? Change because of them?
Plot Device #2: Add betrayal to the mix. Just as love can alter your main character, betrayal of their trust can jump-start your plot. Betrayal adds fabulous conflict and sets the stage for emotional scenes. A betrayal by someone close to your main character will probably wreak the most havoc—the revealing of a beloved character’s dark side will shock your readers and keep them turning those pages.
Plot Device #3: Have your character lose something important. Losing something crucial to your character’s success can throw them off the straight-and-narrow…and lead to excitement for the readers. They can lose something physical—say your main character has heavily relied on a speedy racecar to help him chase kidnappers. What will he do when the car is stolen? The loss can also be metaphorical or can even come in the form of another character’s death: Say the owner of the stolen racecar always turns to his brother for advice, but his brother leaves or dies suddenly. No matter the object, any loss is guaranteed to thicken your plot.
Plot Device #4: Have a stronger antagonist waiting in the wings. Did you think that first villain was evil? Well, check out the surprise second villain! Introducing a new character, or a new side to a familiar character, is a great way to kickstart your plot. A new villain can mean new threats and challenges for your protagonist to tackle. It can also be fun to toy with your reader’s point of view. Who’s the true antagonist? How should readers feel about your characters? Keep them on their toes.
Plot Device #5: Kill off one of your characters. This is simultaneously one of the most popular and risky tactics. The death of a character important to your protagonist—whether they were loved or hated—can spur unprecedented conflicts, actions, and emotions. The reaction and grieving processes of your remaining characters will pull readers in and move the plot forward—as long as you give your characters’ grief enough time and attention. You’ll also want to think before you kill: Is the character you’re killing truly expendable? Is the timing right for their death? If you can answer “yes,” the risk might be worth taking.
Keep the conflict alive. Remember that there should always be some level of active conflict in your story, even in moments of relaxation for your characters and plot. A story with no sense of conflict, especially one that falls flat at the middle, won’t keep your readers coming back. The above plot devices—and more!—can keep your plot churning and your readers hooked.
Have you ever tried any of these techniques to give your story a boost in the middle? Do you have any other tips to add?
Writer’s Relief is an author’s submission service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994. Their work is highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out! They can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Goodreads.
What’s next? Author Mary Buckham joins us on Wednesday, April 29th.
- 7 Ways to Create Conflict in Your Novel by Janice Hardy
- Are Your Stakes High Enough? with Janice Hardy
- C.J. Redwine – How to Escalate Conflict in Your Novel
- Before You Climax by Chris Eboch
- Five Things to Consider During Revisions with Loucinda McGary