As we self-edit, we must watch out for the sagging middle! “A middle”, said Aristotle, “is that which follows something, as some other thing follows it.” Fine! We know how to write the middle section of our stories—by manipulating search and struggle, sequel and scene. The middle links these things together. Our focal characters (heroine and hero for a romance) find their suitable goals. In the middle our characters struggles to attain it. Further difficulties assail them.
The beginning starts a fight between tension and danger. The end resolves the conflict, and the middle lies in between. It’s the body of our story, the portion detailing the ebb and flow of the battle. Starting with the story question, it carries our focal character forward to the moment of decision. This marks the beginning of our story’s end.
At the moment I’m self-editing the middle of my new adult book, INTERVENUS: A BRAND NEW ADDRESS. Hero Marchand LaFont, groomed all his life for the space race to Venus, can’t let emotion get in the way of his mission. At times spent alone with feisty Yardley Van Dyke, he lets his guard down but then must close himself off. Yardley promised her dying mother she’d care for the family by growing food in her ice age greenhouse, but family dynamics have changed. Her dad’s fiancé pushes her out. Nothing stands still in the middle. She wants to be his but learns what he’s like under pressure. She sees the sullenness in his glance, the wrong words are spoken, and then there’s tenderness. Yardley, a gardener, feels as if a new bud is about to open.