The Middle

Here we are at the middle of the month of February. Winter is more than half over in my mind. Warmer days and spring are ahead, but in the book I’m writing, I am in the middle. Middles have a reputation of being difficult and harder to write than beginnings or ends. In the beginning, you are excited because it’s all new. At the end, you are almost done and that’s always exciting. But the middle? Eh. Humbug. If the middle feels that way, the reader may also. A good plot keeps building and building to the climax and ends shortly thereafter. At least, that’s what Aristotle tells us. The same thing that drives the book in the beginning should keep driving it, but of course there have been plot reversals. Just when the protagonist figured out his plan and was inches away from success, some terrible thing happened, a major setback. He must start over again, or worse there is no starting over.

The first part of my book deals with the life and troubles of editor/abolitionist/preacher Elijah Lovejoy. He is in deep trouble to be sure. There are people who threaten him and want to kill him. His young wife is in the middle of her second pregnancy and ill. He doesn’t know what to do. Give up? Be chased out of yet another town? Lovejoy’s role in the story is actually that of the victim. A role probably no one wants. Abraham Lincoln is the protagonist. He, too, has his troubles. He is a new lawyer and statesman. He wants to build a political career. Befriending a controversial man like Lovejoy is no way to do it, but Lincoln can’t help himself. He’s a man of honor and high standards, like Lovejoy himself. Neither of these two is the kind who surrenders lightly. Speed, Lincoln’s sidekick, is the opposite. He would surrender at the idea of trouble, let alone any real trouble, but Lincoln is his best friend. Lincoln keeps life interesting. Speed thinks maybe he can save them both, but not Lovejoy.

The above describes the beginning of the book. There are many other characters. This actual historical event involved numerous characters, some of which are the villains. Those who oppose my heroes. Any good plot demands that the writer put obstacles, sometimes insurmountable obstacles, in front of the heroes. Death is one of the biggest obstacles a character can face and one frequently visited upon the victim. Everything at this point in the book has been pointing in that direction. This is a major plot reversal. If done correctly, the characters are knocked down and must pull themselves up again to go on. The victim’s death is pointless if they do not. They must pick up the flag and carry on the fight. Occasionally there is a moment or two where the heroes struggle to regroup and go on. This is the Middle. The reader should be fully invested and rooting for them to do what they have to do. All may feel as though it is lost, at least to the characters, but in the end it is not. The heroes must struggle to make right the great wrong. In any type of mystery, this usually involves discovering the killer and seeing that justice is done. In real life, justice is not always achieved or may take decades to accomplish. The end is the payoff in knowing that the struggle was worth the cost.

Most of a book consists of the middle and is the story of how they get from one point to another. The beginning and end are rather short. The middle should not be flat, though, it should continually build. That is the hard part.

Published by dpreisig

Dawn was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and moved to Fort Wayne at the age of nine. As an adult, she lived off and on in Denver, Colorado. She went to college at Purdue Indiana University and works fulltime as a Nurse Practioner. She has two grown sons and two grandsons. She loves history, travel, writing, gardening, painting, any kind of creative arts.

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