Writing Your Scene at Midpoint
“The midpoint is a pit stop, a destination, a beacon that guides you and keeps you on course during the execution of your story line.” – Syd Field, Screenwriter’s Workbook
We novelists can learn a lot from screenwriters. They use the same Aristotelian structure— beginning, middle, and end. Something must happen midpoint. Typically, something physical happens halfway through. An action sequence, a verbal interaction that is pivotal to the story, a declaration, or a change of direction or thinking on a subject. If you really pay attention while watching a movie, you will see that the halfway point is where they dish up something big in the story line. We, as writer’s, need to keep this in mind as we write our stories.
Sup? How is you? Me- oh, I’m content. I have an eleven-week-old puppy wrapped around my foot, my two other puppers on their massive bed next to me, and a fresh cuppa. How about you? What do you have wrapped around your foot? Do you need a refresh of your cuppa and are you in need of a nibble? Who am I to stop you? Run along and get some nourishment and I will pull out the reading run…as soon as I find a warm, snuggly place for Benji to tuck into. Maybe between Bindi and Frankie. Lawd knows that bed is big enough. Go on. I’ll meet you back here. Bring your copies of The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray. We are on page 176.
Guidelines for Writing Your Midpoint
At your midpoint focus on action. Something that will cause a big change or turn in your story line. Your midpoint should anchor two chains of events. One leading to the midpoint and the other, leading away from it. Like…falling in love, declaring love (midpoint), everything that comes after. The chain of events leading to and from midpoint should dramatize the change in direction happening at midpoint.
Midpoint, midpoint, midpoint…I don’t think I typed it enough.
Seriously, the center is where it all happens. For chapters and chapter, you have your characters fighting the love they have for one another. Midpoint you put them alone together in a situation where all they can do is talk or have a fear for the others safety. That is when their true feelings are shared. Once freed for the trapped situation they must figure out how to move forward with their truth. Not into romance? Cool. Midpoint is where the biggest bombs fall, the car chase happens, and the 40-minute shoot out occurs. Ta-Da.
Chain of Events: make a list of events leading up to and away from the midpoint. Lists are easy and just as easily changed.
Storyboard Your Scene at Midpoint: using the storyboard skills we created way back in weekend 5 (stage setup, action, etc..), sketch out the parts of your midpoint scene. Ensure your protagonist is there. Make sure each of the characters in this scene have a clear agenda.
Timed Writing: Write your midpoint scene in 15 minutes. Just do it. Let your mind run with your ideas. I suggest – if you are handwriting, skip a space between each line. If typing- use double space and print it out. That way, when you go back in, you have room for notes and ideas before you make heavy duty changes.
And…Rewrite: After you stepped away from your timed exercise for a few minutes, go back in and read it. Think on it. Then rework it. Like before, dig deeper, add color, draw a better picture.
We will be jumping into Plot Point One. Plot point one ends Act One. This power scene should occur about a third of the way into your story. If your novel is 300 pages, it should happen around page 100. Think about it— beginning, middle, end. It is the break between the three sections. Confused? Good. That is why we will be going into detail. Next time.
Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
I’m always looking for new friends!
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