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  • Writer's pictureWendiFournier

Mastering the Midpoint in Novel Writing

Mastering the midpoint in the craft of novel writing is a crucial step in the story development process. But to get it right, we must first understand the midpoint and how this key plot point impacts story structure.

The midpoint happens roughly halfway through the second act of your novel, or at 50% of your total word count. A bit obvious but needs to be stated.

Let’s start by defining the midpoint of a story. The midpoint is the point of no return for the main character. Often, the hero is marvelously challenged at this point and can’t imagine finding themselves lower. Think of it as full crisis mode or the big change, when a new truth draws on our hero that they aren’t quite sure how to handle. They must shift from a reactionary mode to a proactive one.

For example, the midpoint in Titanic is when the ship hits the iceberg that changes the course of Rose and Jack’s life forever. In Twilight, the midpoint strikes when Bella sees Edward’s skin sparkle in the sun, witnessing for the first time his true self and realizing she can’t be without him. If you are writing about pirates on the high seas, it could be the first time the protagonist discovers hidden treasure and steals it from the enemy. In all three of these cases, our heroes are the most challenged, and things will never be the same in their world again. That, darlings, is the midpoint!

Ready to tackle your midpoint? Here are a few pointers to get in you the fast lane!

At the midpoint, a terrible or life-changing event needs to happen to your hero that raises the stakes. Your protagonist will have to find the strength to overcome whatever significant obstacle you’ve decided to throw in their way, or they will risk losing everything. Given this sticky situation, your MC will decide to do something and take the remainder of the story to achieve this goal.

As you search for a way to make your character’s journey more difficult, don’t forget to add meaning in a surprising or interesting way. Remember, the midpoint doesn’t have to be uber explosive. What’s most important is that it serves as an anchor, or a purpose, to why something happens.

There you have it—the nuts a bolts of the midpoint! Now, get out there, wordsmiths, and shred some rubber!




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