This week, you’re rewriting up to the midpoint of your story. At this point, your protagonist experiences a temptation to retreat back to the familiar rather than going forward into the unknown.
This temptation is a crucial stage in the story because it often involves a turning point. It’s not important to figure out what the midpoint event is than it is to inquire into a moment somewhere in the middle of your story where your protagonist is tempted.
It’s common for writers to get stuck at this point or for the work to meander. If the story feels flat, or a little boring, you might be holding a little too tightly to your idea of how the story should play out.
In revision, the challenge is to remain connected to the characters’ impulses while exploring creative ways to raise the stakes. If you can identify the conflict in a scene, you will discover where the plight of the story lives. The challenge then becomes exploring the scenario that best exploits this story-plight.
Ideas are rarely fully-functional right out of the gate, complete with a Kung-Fu Grip. It is only through rigorous inquiry that you can arrive at the most dynamic version of the scene. Remember that your protagonist’s plight involves two elements: a powerful desire and a false belief related to that desire. As you explore potential midpoint scenes, notice how these two elements conspire to turn the story in a new direction. If the moment doesn’t feel strong enough, you should be curious about the role that your antagonist plays. On its surface, there’s nothing particularly logical about the midpoint because this is where the story often moves in a new direction. It’s through the hero’s temptation that he commits fully toward achieving his goal.
- What does your protagonist want?
- What is the false belief or misconception that has been guiding your protagonist through the story?
- Where in the middle of the story does an event happen that leads to a moment of temptation for your protagonist?
- How does this choice at this point in the story alter his trajectory?
- What does this choice mean, and how does it relate specifically to your protagonist’s dilemma?
For an example of how I handled this midpoint moment, see the reprint of The Romance of Eowain currently available on Wattpad. In Chapters Ten and Eleven (scenes 25-29), Eowain has just won a false victory over his enemies, and has a moment to celebrate. But even as he does, he is faced with the decision of facing the still difficult obstacles ahead of them. He questions the motivations of those advising them and leading them into this dangerous journey through hostile country, and is tempted to give up and turn back. Eowain was reluctant to become king in Hedge King in Winter, and that reluctance and self-doubt rears its head again in these scenes as Eowain grapples against his better angels.
So good luck with your rewrite this week, and I’ll see you back here next week.
The Romance of Eowain (Wattpad Edition): Chapters 10 & 11, sc. 25, 26 – 29.