Write an Exciting Story Middle (Act Two) | Barbara Vance | Skillshare

Write an Exciting Story Middle (Act Two)

Barbara Vance, Author, Illustrator

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11 Lessons (1h 26m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Second Act Overview Elements of the Middle

    • 3. The Midpoint

    • 4. Act Two, Pre Midpoint

    • 5. Act Two, Post Midpoint

    • 6. Making it Manageable Keep Things Moving with Plot Bites

    • 7. The First Plot Bite

    • 8. Stringing Plot Bites Together

    • 9. Keep the Reader Engaged with Plot

    • 10. Keep the Reader Engaged with Character

    • 11. Final Thoughts and Class Project


About This Class

This course is designed to help you write a compelling, exciting middle to your novel. Often the second act is where writers get stuck. As the largest portion of your story, it can be unwieldy and easily get out of hand. This class addresses ways to avoid this by looking at

  1. the structure of a story and the components of a middle.
  2. Then we will look at how to make that middle manageable to write so you don’t go all over the place
  3. Then we will look at specifically how to make the middle interesting and keep the reader’s attention through plot and character

The course comes with downloadable class notes to follow along with as well as a worksheet to help you put the lessons into practice right away. These may be found in the resources on the right-hand side of the page under the “project” tab.


1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. My name is poor prevents and welcome to this course on how to write the middle off your story. Writing the middle of a story can be tremendously intimidating. It is a high stakes piece of the story. Is the most real estate in your novel. Generally speaking, we have a shorter introduction. Shorter start to this story short end of the story, but then that big piece in the middle way often, no, this is rather how I want my story to start, and this is I wanted to end up. But now how do I get from Point A to point B that is made up of so many big decisions understanding the structure of the middle of your story, how to navigate that how to create proper tension and release and keep the reader interested while moving that plot Forward is the great challenge of righting what many call Act two of your story but the middle of your story. And it's so important to do this well because if you don't, you can rapidly end up with a story screenplay, a novel that it's winding, but the pot points aren't related well, or you don't have character development, and so you lack a cohesion. That is what makes a rewarding experience for your readers, for your viewers. Because this middle point is so large, it's often where riders get stock. Writers can very often begin energized and ready to go. They know how they want their story to start. But you can easily get sort of stuck in the doldrums of the middle and just never find your way out. And often times when a writer feels like their project is going on and on and on, it's the middle is where they're stuck. So this class is all about helping you work through that to make sure that doesn't happen to you. Now I know for a lot of people that middle can be like we said, intimidating a little bit. It's that place where our story has the potential to sag or really go off the rails. But the truth is that if you know the structure and if you take certain steps that make it manageable, writing the middle can be the really fun, exciting port. That's where most of the action happens. That's that's the place where the story really happens, beginning sets it up, the ending finishes it off. But your story, the meat of it is in the middle. So it's so important that we stay energized about it and that we have the tools and the tricks needed to make sure that we can proceed with confidence and be expeditious, You know, continue to move forward with our work but also feel like we're really flashing and developing out the plot and the characters in our stories. To that end, this course is going to look at three primary things when we look at the middle of your novels in the first is the structure of the story. So we're going to look at the components that make up the middle of a story, because how can you write something which you don't know the components off? Then we're going to look at How do I make that middle manageable? Because it can seem so unwieldy, and there are things that we can do to say. Okay, how do I get a handle on around this and cut this up into pieces that I can manage? And then the third thing that we will look at our okay, now that we know what the structure is and now that we know ways to sort of make writing it manageable, what are the sorts of things narratively speaking, that we do in the middle of our stories to maintain that interest in the reader to help heighten emotion and and and have these twists and turns and have the reader questioning what's going to happen? How do we keep that reader interest? And we can do that through plot, and we can do it through character. Now, if you've watched any of my courses, you know that I believe plot and character are inextricably linked. You cannot break those to a port, which means, if you're forwarding, plot your forwarding character character plot so they there are connected. But there are some things that are more plot, point based and some things that are more character based. We will look at those, so I'm really excited to do this because I know it's been a requested course, and it's also one that solves a lot of problems for people. So it's my joy to bring it to you. I hope it sounds of interest. If it does, I will see you in the next video 2. Second Act Overview Elements of the Middle: before we dive in. As always, I have class notes for you. They are in the resources section of this course I recommend before you go any further, you take a pause, go over down though the class notes down there, the class worksheet and have those in front of you. It's one thing to listen. If that's all you're able to do for this class. Definitely do that, because it will still help you. But what's going to really help you pertain the information and apply It is having those class notes in front of you making your own notes on top of them as we go. That's what they are designed to do. They're designed to give you a textual structure of this class and end room for you to to add in the things that mean the most to you. So take a moment and go down that that class notes and download the class worksheet while you're at it because we'll talk about that later in the course. The other thing that I want to stress and again I know I say this in virtually all of my classes. Please keep in mind that I believe in guidelines, not rules. There are so many resources out there that tend to tell you this is the way novels are. These are the terms. This is how it's structured now. Those things can be very helpful for us. They can give us tools, but if we're not careful, we can take them a little too literally and end up with very boxy, stereotyped novels and especially ones in which they weren't actually the ones we want to write. So many people who tend to follow the rules too much. They feel like they have to sort of fit their story into these rules, and then they think to themselves. That's not quite what I was imagining for my story, but that seems to be the guidelines. So I guess I'll four is my story into this structure. No, this structures are designed to help you, and the structures we will talk about in this class are designed to help you there ways to look at how we can break a story down and how a story can be constructed, their ways to look at it, that help us get our head around it. Now there are many ways we could look at stories, we could look at them from all kinds of different angles. So when you listen to this, know that what we're talking about, their general over arching guidelines general overarching observances that people have made about how stories are constructed. But there are also so many one of stories that totally break some of these rules. So if you say to yourself, that's not exactly what I had in mind from my story, That's OK, you can say, Well, that works for me. But my story is going to deviate over here, and that's absolutely all right. So keep that in mind. Please don't be married to anything as strict rules. Last thing I'll say before we jump in. I have. If you find this course helpful and you have not watched my plot one a one course or my great scenes mega course, I really recommend going and taking a look at those. Some of those are going to get into specifics that we will not get into here. The plot one. A one course is going to look very much more the whole overarching plot developing how everything connects, and so it's really good to have your head space around that, and it talks about tension and release and how we build those things were not going to get in the specifics of manifesting tension and release in your story because we do so in that course. We also definitely look attention and release in the great scenes mega course. If plot one. No. One is about the whole grand plot, the great scenes mega courses. How do we just make one seen as a segment of that plot, intense and interesting and engaging for the reader? That's what that course is all about. It's a lengthy course because there is so much that we can say about it. But if you haven't watched it, it's going to help flesh out things we will not talk about here but that are deeply connected. Having settle of hat, let's dive in on what I want us to start with and forgive me if I look down. I do teach from notes. We're going to look at elements of the middle. I just want us to have an overview of what many people call the second act of the story. You may very well be familiar with the concept of the three act structure being Act One Introduction Act to the longest piece of your story, which is where a lot of in the narrative takes place and you have a climax and Act three sort of your quick conclusion. So Act one and two are shorter. Act two very long. Don't get married to those terms. It's just one way to look at it. There definitely people who say Don't don't even think about the three act structure its models you up. If you do, you're not having to cram your story into specifically three act structure. And, you know, if you go and you read and you look at different peoples analyses of novels and films where they break it down, they say, Well, here's where Act One ends and years were two ends and etcetera. People will disagree on you know where that is on the same story, which just goes to show you that it's not this clear collecting. Always. Sometimes it's rather clear, but it's not always totally clear. The idea of Act one Act two Act three is simply that when we have a story we need to set that world up, and we need to introduce the characters in the world to the readers. And then we need to say, OK, here's my character in her world. Now there's an event that happens that sort of is the catalyst which moves the story onward . That's how we start our stories. Then we say, Well, my character now is going through this narrative. In many cases, she has a goal, but not always, especially in quote unquote literary fiction. There can often be less of a goal genre fiction, far more goal oriented literary fiction less so. But nonetheless you have. What is the middle section, which is the character hitting roadblocks running into conflict? And then there's resolution to that conflict. It may be good it may be bad runs into more conflict resolution. We will get into that later on. In this course, Then the third chop chapter or act is simply now that the characters had the grand, most intimidating, hardest climactic conflict. How do we wrap up this story and put a bow on it? And that's your three act structure. So it's just the general way that stories are shaped so act to and that's what we're focusing on in this class is basically the bulk of your book. It can vary in terms of percentages. I have people ask me. Well, exactly how much of my book can this be? The middle can easily be over half of the book. I don't have specific page numbers for you, and I don't have specific percentages for you because I think those are Miss guided. I think if you're going about plotting the right way, starting riding by looking at those percentages doesn't help you now in the revision stage where you might say to yourself, Is this a bit too long or something like that? That is, we're looking at percentages and whatnot can help you a bit Justus, a guide but not really here for the writing purposes. So I don't I don't really like to give those. One thing that is present in the second act is the mid point of your story. Generally, that happens, as you might imagine, right around the middle. If it's the film, it's the middle of the run time. If it's a novel, it's the middle of the book. It happens right around there. Something tends to happen. People will say in the mid point we will talk about mid points mid points in a story again , like the three act structure there just a way to break it down when we say Act one, Act two, Act three or as well Look at this in different components. The midpoint that this It's a way for the authors to try to get a handle on structure. I don't feel like you have to say to yourself, Okay, here's my midpoint. Exactly, and it does this. It's just a way to look at it. It's very often present in stories. It's helpful, but it's not law. So if Act one is all about introduction, if it's all about where the character decides to take something on Act two is the result of taking that on its the conflict itself. And what happens in Act two is just that That protagonist is going to encounter trial after trial after trial, and we're just going to do that repeatedly throughout now. We have to make that varied, and we'll look at that. But that's what Act two is now again. In another way, we can break down act to to think about it is if we have a midpoint, then we sort of have the middle of our novel premed point in the middle of our novel post midpoint and advice you often get Is that in a way, to sort of think about this and because you're trying to have character development, is to say, OK, premed point. My character is a bit reactionary now, reaction and pro action, like being proactive or being reactive, that gets money very quickly. But very often people will say all right, components of the middle You have pre midpoint in which the character sort of launched off into something in the beginning and knocked one, but now is is not still quite proactive about it. Bad things are happening to her, and she's just kind of having to just react to the next thing to the next thing to the next thing until you get to something roughly like a mid point at which she has a big change of heart in which the second half, now that she's had this change of heart the second act of the midpoint, um, she's much more proactive. Now she's still reacting to antagonizing forces, but she's more like I'm gonna go get this and we will look at that. But that's this structure, all right? So that's your middle generally premed point kind of a midpoint second half, which then leads into the climax, which leads into the conclusion. No trials you have. These roadblocks, I keep saying, are part of your second act. These can be a number of things. Thes can be physical blocks, so they reach a mountain and they can't get over it. They can be antagonizing forces. This would be like the night riders in Lord of the Rings. They can be relationship tensions with friends. You know, two people are climbing a mountain and they start to get on each other's nerves. That would be that would be a conflict, and they could also just be in a conflict, insecurity or being haunted by the past or things like that. So these are four kinds of conflict that we will see manifest themselves in this second act . And what makes that second act interesting is looking at How does the protagonist deal with these things? That constant question of what's she going to do? Another way to look at the second act is just in terms off, moving onward in an adventure or in uncharted territory. So, in fact, one is this world that the characters familiar with and then something happens that requires her in some form or fashion to leave that world. Then Act two is all about her navigating this new world, complete with all of its conflict. That can be a very literal kind of world, for example, in The Lord of the Rings photo in the Shire. And then he last to leave the shire and sort of proceed onward in this adventure with the ring. But it can also be something more figurative where you are growing up. It could be a coming of age story in which you're still the same location, but you're in a new stage in your life. You're seeing things and new, unfamiliar way Children. You know, young girl suddenly being interested in boys. She's sick puberty or something like that that is leaving of a familiar home. Hope familiar way of being into this new, uncharted territory, and you can have both in one story in homecoming by Cynthia Voigt Dicey and her siblings literally travel from one location across states to another toward the grandmother lives. That's a physical journey that they go on but dicey. In particular. She's the protagonist. She also develops because she leaves behind one role and she grows and changes and develops into this caretaker in a new way that she wasn't used to for her siblings. So you can have both a physical and figurative change that's taking place over that second part of the story. Your character development is really happening in the second port of your story, which is partially why it is just so very important. So while they're on this journey in this new place, in this new adventure, in their lives, their learning, all kinds of things, they're learning about themselves. They're learning the rules of this new place. If if Alice is now in Wonderland, she's learning the rules of Wonderland. You know, Dicey is learning to accept and take on a new role for herself, his caretaker. For her siblings, characters discover new things about themselves. New thing is about their quests and their goals. They interact with and encounter new people good and bad, so it's a whole adventure that they're going on. All of that is what makes up the middle of your story and I'd like to do in the next video is help sort of define this midpoint that we've talked about? Just get a handle on what it rather is so that we can then move forward to look at before it and after it. 3. The Midpoint: or at mid points. The midpoint is generally speaking in your stories. A spot in which the character makes a grand discovery has a change of heart. It's a turning point, and from that turning point, she will then proceed to the climax. And she needs to reach that turning point to then go on to do other things. Now, why is it important to think a little bit about it again? Don't worry so much like what exactly is the midpoint? Just know that what happens in a character's journey is at some point, narratively speaking, we tend to see a character go through some kind of turning point again. Not always. And in literary fiction, it can be particularly subtle where we sort of say, Well, I guess that's a rather bit of a turning point in genre fiction In Herro, you know, goal oriented fiction. There is a much more distinct turning point more often than not, but they're helpful. Reason to look at that is because what you don't want is a middle of a story in which you just have okay. Conflict reaction, new conflict reaction, new conflict reaction. You can have that and feel like it's not going anywhere. So here your story events, conflict, reaction, conflict reaction, conflict, reaction. My story has to go somewhere in two ways. My story has to go somewhere, literally, event to event, moving me closer to the goal, or maybe moving me toward the goal and then a little bit away from the goal, like we thought we were getting closer. But of Oho. Now we're a little further away. So there is this back and forth. It's happening, but we also need to see character development happening. We need to be like that. Character is growing and changing. And because the plot and the character are so connected when that character has mental changes or changes of heart, that's going to affect the plot. Just is what happens? The plot is going to create in the character those changes of heart changes of mind. So we just have to understand that, all right, so that we don't just have this boring thing of OK. It's another conflict, another conflict. We have to make sure that I'm as a reader, feeling like the tensions getting more intense and more intense, more intense based on the plot. But also that I'm watching that character grow so that these events are all helping shape that character toe, a point at which she realizes certain things. And and because of that, she can now approach the goal in a new way. So the character, it doesn't approach the goal or go through the experience in the same way throughout the story, then we would have no character development. So in some ways, from scene to scene, we have a little bit of a different character every time. Which is why when you're planning your characters, you don't want to just say, OK, this is my character. Thes are traits and we're gonna move her through. And she's going to do this. No, just like we are different, a little bit different every day because of our experiences. So, too, is your character. So you always have to ask yourself, seem to seem event to event. How is my character, who is my character now, who is my character now, who is my character now? And it might just be something simple as she is little more bitter or what have you. But you want to know what it is you can't just going to have far more things happening to her than you convey in that story. You're cherry picking events for me. So as a reader, all I care about of the cherry picked even says you've given me, which means you need to constantly show me little ways that those events have affected the character. That's how I feel that there's growth so that midpoint in the middle is just a way just like a landmark for you to say. OK, I'm building this change. I'm building this change. I'm building this change. It could be a big epiphany change that happens upon which we then go onward. But in literature, it could just be OK. Revelations and changes, changes, changes. But right here was the change that it was the straw that broke the camel's back was the big decision. She finally made me a decision. It can be a revelation. It could be all kinds of things. But it's something at which the plots really connected to that. And we say that was a that was a game changer that's more or less the function that we would say. The midpoint serves in many, many stories We have characters who are dealing with an issue, and they're struggling with it and they're struggling with it and they're struggling with it. But there reaches a point at which the stakes are raised and they say I'm in like I'm regularly it and I'm going to do this fruit for Odo at the at the Elvis Place, I can't think the name of the moment where he finally says, Yes, I will take the ring to Mordor. He's been carrying that ring, but that's where he puts a stake in the ground says All right, I'm going to do that. It's things like that that's it's a game changing moment. So when that happens, there's a shift in their perspective on how they're going to go about things. What does this mean for your actual writing at the midpoint or somewhere thereabouts? If you're struggling with structuring your story, you might try this. You might try saying All right, generally speaking, somewhere around the middle, what kind of life changing generally negative sort of. The event can happen now, life changing and be a lot of different things. If we're interested in a boy and all this time this story has been about this girl who's pursuing this boy and then right around the middle, she suddenly learns, and she hadn't known it. He had dated her stepsister two years ago, you know, and she didn't know it. That's this big, Oh, revelation. You know, and it changes how she proposes things, and, jeez, gonna go do something dramatic. So it's some kind of big event. It's a moment where the reader or the viewers like, Oh, no, it's that kind of thing that happens. And what's she going to do next on the steak Suddenly got bigger. It's that kind of event. So oh, away you to help you when you're structuring this to say. All right, let me put it like an anchor. Let me put this down in my story. All right? Have my beginning. I have my end right around the middle. There is this big anchor that happens now. Let me flesh out what happens in between. It gives you something to build toward. You know how if you're, say, running your jogging or something, you're getting rather tired. Say, you had told yourself I'm going to run for an hour. Well, you are trying to run, so you not you're not really feeling like running. What do many people do? Many people say to themselves? All right, let me just get to 15 minutes. Let me just get to 15 and then they know it's like a mental marker in their head. So he was a writer. It's the same thing. It's like, OK, that's a middle point for me to work toward that rather than having to work toward the whole grand ending, just working toward that. Whatever it is, that midpoint event needs to be significant. It's going to be something that that character then really is changed by and is going to go through the rest of the story somewhat different because of it. On example of this in literature, pride and prejudice. You know, Elizabeth Bennet has gone through all kinds of conflict and really put off by Mr Dorsey, disliking him, disliking and disliking him and rural watching. It just kind of like, Come on, you two should be together. But she doesn't like him. She has a lot of judgments about him, and she thinks he's so judgy. And then there's this moment where he meets with there. Any proposes to her, and it's this big moment. We're like, what? You know we in and she totally turns him down. And she says everything she hates about him. And then he writes with its letter, and he explained some things, and that letter rocks her world and makes her think about him differently with the rest of the story is about her realizing that she actually loves Mr Darcy and working through that . But that whole my gosh, he's proposing to me and then reading the letter and being challenged again by her thoughts of him. That is sort of the mid point of that story, so it doesn't have to be this hideous negative event, but it's a world changing event that has them rethink certain things in great expectations . It's when Pip gets certain revelations from Magritte Mag, which reveals his identity. To Pip. Pip gets is an enormous amount of information that has toe force him to reconsider everything he thought about his life in London as well as his treatment of old friend Joe, and he spends the rest of the novel trying to make good on his bad actions. Up until that point again. The in The Lord of the Rings When they go to the counselor l Ron, that's what it's called. Um, and photo says Yes, I will commit to putting in the ring. That's a midpoint in the line that which in the wardrobe, when Edmund has deserted his siblings and then the other siblings all decide that they will travel on to seek Aslan, that's a midpoint. Up until then, they sort of just been exploring it. They think they might go home, but now stake in the ground Adminis here. We're not leaving Edmund behind. We must go find Aslan again. Pivotal thing that changes how they act throughout the rest of the story. Now, now, do keep in mind with the endpoint. We're talking about a lot of big dramatic things, but can also be very subtle. Ah, big change can happen inside of us. That still registers as subtle on the action field of the story, so don't feel like it has to be this earth shattering moment. It can be a subtle change inside of one's self. That then just does change them throughout the rest of the story. All right, having set up the general broad idea of what in second actors and established what this anchor of the midpoint is. Let's look at what does it look like from the store to the second act to the midpoint? 4. Act Two, Pre Midpoint: the first half of the second act begins immediately. Once that sort of first major plot point in your story happens, the thing that kicks it often requires them to move forward in some way or fashion. Generally, in the start of your story, you have some sort of event that happens, that causes your character to make a decision and then kind of proceed based on that decision. That's where your second act picks up. Now that first half of your second act is what is often called a reactionary state. Yes, your character is moving forward, but not as proactively as she will in the second half of the second act. She's more reacting to things going on when you have a goal or into story, a hero oriented story. Very often, this is a situation in which the hero has accepted the call to adventure. She is moving forward based on that call, but she's lacking confidence. She hasn't really fully embraced this call yet. She's all right. I'm going but doesn't really want to and is is now in this new world, and it's quite unwieldy and unmanageable for her. So she's bit overwhelmed and she's just reacting a lot. She's not. She's just having that. Oh my gosh, there's this problem. No, there's this new thing I have to do with. And so she's going on and on in this kind of reactionary way. So it's a time in which the character is dealing with insecurities and fears, and her actions themselves are so very reactionary. Now in more literary fiction again, this sort of looks a little bit different, but it really is the coward to still reaction. Reacting to things, um, in pride and prejudice. Bingley has been terribly interested in Jane, but his sister convinces him to leave another field, and so he heads off and his sister heads often. Dorsey heads off, so now all of the Bennet sisters are forced to react to this. So Jane react by going over to London and trying to figure out what's happening and Lizzie react by Mr Wickham's Gone now. So she's a guard. I'm gonna go visit my friend Charlotte, and so the sisters are all kind of reacting to that that news, but none of them are like, yes, I'm proactively going and grabbing this. They're just saying this bad thing happened to us now what now? Just a few things that you want to make sure that you are thinking about when you have your character in this reactionary state. Very often they react promptly and decisively to the events of the first major plot point. So when we have the introduction, we have that first major plot point. The characters tend to react quickly. A lot of that is just simply story structure and reader interest. If you just have your character kind of languishing and thinking about things and thinking about things and wondering what to do, your readers going to get bored and leave, not always Proust great example that he can drag things out for a very long time. He is a wonderful writer. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful prose. So you I read just for the pros. But generally speaking, you want to kick that story into gear, which means that you will have your character react quite decisively to that initial event . So really starting off in the second act, they've made some kind of decision and are moving forward on it now because their lives have sort of been just tossed about and significantly altered we are watching them find new ways of dealing with the world, especially the main antagonised. So this is a time in your story as you're thinking about building it. This is a time okay. Yes, My character needs to be decisive moving into the second act. But I need to see them struggle. I need to see them falter. And the specific struggles that I'm going to see them do are going to be dealing with how they function and react to this new situation or new world that they're in. They're finding their footing, those air, the struggles we we need to see your character dealing with. They'll have antagonizing forces coming at them, but with in addition to thes forces coming at them, they're dealing with this whole other, just new general situation. So it's It's harder, you know. You think of Harry Potter. He learns he's a wizard. He has negative forces coming at him. He's dealing with Draco Malfoy away and all of these things that are happening. But he's also figuring out what it Oh, I have these powers and you know I can fly and you know things like that. So he's figuring out the new situation while dealing with us antagonizing forces. You want to also make sure that as you have these reactions, because you'll have many, you'll have many plus points, so you'll have many opportunities for reactions. You want those reactions to be varied. We'll look at that. But you want to make sure that those character reactions are the same kind of reaction, the same kind of situation from one to the next. And you definitely want to make sure the reactions are building on each other. This goes back to what I was saying earlier. You wouldn't want to see those character growth your characters a little bit different every time. Which means when you have a situation and you have a reaction, the character needs to have grown from that. So that plot wise, each reactions moving me forward, and it's developing the character at the same time. Lastly, just doesn't note very often this portion of your story between the um, stored and of the second back tooth in mid point. That's a skills building time. That's very often if your character is going to learn a new skill or something like that, ah majority of that skills building is going to happen there. That's the area in which Luke Skywalker comes in. He learns a lot about being a Jet. I now is he learning about being a Jet I the whole time, Yes, but from that early part of the second act is when he gets a lot of his training, his training starts and we see him going through a lot of it. Whereas in the second half of the middle he's getting to kind of test the waters and put those things into practice, all right, having looked at just the first half of the second act. Now let's go and look at what happens from the midpoint to the climax. 5. Act Two, Post Midpoint: while the first half of your middle is very often character development, they're learning their skills. They're learning the new world. They're getting new perspectives. They're dealing with the's reactive states. Even in the fastest paste of stories, this tends to be the slowest port of your story. It's a media rewarding part. It's not a bad slow, but we're slowing down to really get to know this character and see some of the things that she's going through now. Once you hit that midpoint and you have that sort of conflict or epiphany or realization change of heart that moves forward, the pace picks up at the midpoint. If you've been training or learning a new skill or something like that, you generally have some kind of new kind of power, a new sense of possibility, a sense of potency and ability. And so that second act. We now really feel the rising action. When you have a story, you have the inciting incident and yes, the actions rising the whole time. But very often in that first half of the second act, the rising actions more like this. After the midpoint, the rising action really starts to rise Now we're in the high action mode. It doesn't mean that the inner struggles your character is dealing with have gone away. They haven't gone away, but your character has learned a way to deal with them, do something about them or proceed in spite of them. So while that first half, we're seeing a lot more of the insecurities of the character and how do they deal with this and have me figure this out and I'm so reacting and this now they're like, OK, I just got to do this. I don't want to do it, but I'm going to do it type thing. Rip the band Aid Off, Let's Go! And so the plot takes off. And at this point now they've really gone proactively into All right, here's Here's How I Feel Again, even in a literary work. When Elizabeth Bennet reads that letter from Mr Dorsey and realized that she's been wrong about them, it's not like she runs out and says, Marry me. I'm sorry she doesn't do that, but she becomes resolute pretty quickly that she likes Mr Darcy and that she loves Mr Dorsey and things moved very rapidly after that in terms of like we just spent a bunch of the novel, sort of like Who loves who and who are they really and who's struggling with her prejudices . And then she's like, I've been wrong, I'm in love, Let's go! And that's really much more. The plot kicks into gear now because that second act begins at the midpoint, just like the first half of the middle act started with a decisive action on the part of the character. So to the second half of Act two also starts with the character decisive, moving forward and again, this is a much more pro active section. Your character is still going to be dealing with reaction, but she's going to feel like she's got more of a focus. She's got more of a destiny Photo doesn't stop dealing with issues when he commits at the Council of Elrond to take the ring all the way to more door. It's not like the Knight Rider suddenly stop, and it's all fine. It's not fine. It's just the photo has a commitment to it that he did not have before. It's different now in The Great Gatsby. The midpoint is what I mean at the midpoint, Nick Carraway really realizes this is a sham. And this whole glitzy world that I've been admiring of Gatsby and Daisy, it's It's It's a paper house. It's not riel that happens at the midpoint. And from then on we just seen that cara ways perspective shift, and he's jaded, and he's just really at that point, all of the beauty and the sort of dazzling world he thought existed just starts to crumble . So it again, it doesn't have to be like I'm pushing it forward, but it rapidly, rapidly. Nick Carraway just sees not that not that this world is just not what I thought it was, and you're going to see the character deal with this until we get to the big climactic point. So you're conflict is still building. Your character is still dealing with internal issues that he or she has to face. None of that has gone away. It's just that now there's been a mental shift and they're going to deal with their overarching goal in a different way. Way will get into this in more detail. They have goals. They have little girls throughout. They have a big goal I'm going to see is a character my world differently. In this second half, I'm going to be more committed. I'm going to be stronger. I'm going to be, you know, more resolute. All of that happens more in the second half. They made a decision, and they're helping push that forward. That's the general structure. You have a second act. It has in it. A rough midpoint that you use is your anchor. Then you've got the first half in which you're developing your character, you developing all of her issues, her hiccups, your she's. She's in a reactionary state. At that midpoint, there's some kind of realization change of action that allows her to continue with the same conflict in a different way. That speeds the narrative up, making us move up to that climax faster than we had been in the first half of the second act. So you'll go up like that through your second act till you get to your climax. Then you have your third act. Having looked at all of that, that's still pretty unwieldy. So we want to look at how do we break that down in a more specific way that lets me manage building all of the events that will happen 6. Making it Manageable Keep Things Moving with Plot Bites: There are a lot of different ways that you can make riding the middle of your story manageable. And so what I'm offering to you is something that over the years, working with my students has helped a lot of people. It's one way to do it, but it's not the only way. So if it helps you wonderful that if it doesn't feel free to leave it alone. But one of the things that I recommend that students do is break that big middle section into surplus bites, plot snacks, and that just means little smaller components. We're just going to say we know the character has this big overarching goal, that they will deal with it the climax. But within that, the character has lots of little goals. I've talked about this and plot 101 and my great scenes mega course, so again much more detail in those two courses. But your character is going to have these little goals. We don't want to deal with all of this. We want to break it down in smaller bites and small, manageable steps. That way, it's not overwhelming one way to do this so that you make sure that you're having character development happen is just think to yourself. You're going to have a lot of these little mini goals thes little, many goals for your character throughout. But your character really needs to kind of hit the bottom before they're going to make a change. And so we want to see our character. We don't want to see our character just okay, here's the start of the story. My character has some problems, but my character goes on a journey and gets better. Better, better, better. Better to the climax. And now he's really better. That's not how it works very often in a story. The characters got issues. Character goes on. The adventure character feels like he's getting worse and worse and worse before he gets better. Better, better. So, generally speaking, we kind of watch our characters lives, goad downhill before they go uphill. If you've seen the Will Smith story, what is it called of happiness? The pursuit of happiness? I think it is, but he's he's a salesman, He's struggling. He's a struggling salesman in the beginning, but it just for a while there it just is like then the next bad thing happens and the next bad thing happens in the next best thing up until he's homeless. Andi He's in a bathroom with this son on a subway train station. It's really bad Things get bad for that poor man before they turn to make it better. So you're going to have little mini goals. But just recognize that these goals might take the character down Lord before he gets to really go upwards. When you think about our own lives, we don't generally just say, OK, here's this one big going going after it. We break that goal into smaller steps. If we say to ourselves, my goal is to get into a really fine university. Okay, while my smaller steps are, I'm going to be valedictorian. Smaller steps. I'm going to make an A in all of my classes. I'm going to be at the top of all of my classes. Smaller steps. I need to get AIDS on all of these tests. Smaller steps. I need to get an A on the test in two weeks. Smaller steps. I need to do all of my homework assignments. Smaller goes all these little mini goes to work up to the goal of getting into a really great university. The same thing is true of our characters, and you want to think about it in those ways. Think about their big goal picture All your ellipticals tied that big goal. That's what's part of what's going to keep your story feeling like it has a lot of focus to it. The other benefit of these little goals is that they keep your reader engaged because we're constantly wondering, Is she going to get that goal? Is she going to get that goal? If we care about your character when your character has a goal, we're going to care if she got it or not. So that when we read Treasure Island, yes, the big question is, is Jim Hawkins going to find the treasure? But then we have smaller goals. Inside of that. Is Jim Hawkins going to get away? Is Jim Hawkins going to make it off that ship? What's Jim Hawkins going to do with Ben Gunn? On and on? We go all kinds of smaller questions. Now, if you read Treasure Island, it's not like Jim Hawkins says. All right, now that I've done this, my next goal is that. And now that I've achieved that, why my next goal is this. It can be right. Reactionary things, you know, mine. My goal might just be to survive the next hour. That's a goal. So but this'll goes back to what I was talking about in several of my other classes, where you want the reader to constantly have some kind of a question that they are asking that is going to help move the plot forward. Often, many goals are each their own scene. So when we think about a scene, which is why there's a plot, one on one course and a great scenes mega corps. So if you're saying to yourself, Well, how do I build all these goals in this tension and all those wonderful things into an actual scene? That's what great scenes, mega courses, the great scenes mega course is going to teach you how to plot out one of your many goals. So what we're talking about here in great detail in specificity is the great scenes. Make a course on how to make these, but you want one of these, you want a mini goal for every scene because you want the audience to know. Okay, what happens next? What happens next? What happens next? Keep in mind when you're doing this that your protagonist is not the only character who has goals. Your other characters are going to have goals. You're going to have subplots. You're going to have secondary characters. Those characters have goals as well. So I'm not just wondering, what's Jim Hawkins going to do? I'm wondering about Ben Gunn. I'm wondering about Long John Silver. I'm wondering about different characters, so you have a lot of things going on at this time. Some of these goals will be short term goals. Some of these goals will be longer term goals, the longest goal being that major goal of the story. And keep in mind that within this character, ETX goals might be very different from character bees goals. And those goals might conflict, which results in more tension. So we'll get into this all the ways that we create tension. But this is why, in my character development courses in my character profile courses in the character arc. Of course, I'm constantly saying, What do your characters want? Because you need to know what they want so that you can have these mini goals so that you can then have the conflict that comes from characters with differing gal's interacting so connected character plot can't separate them now for my short story writers for short story , it's very common that your character will have one primary goal, and that's it. And that goal will be achieved or not in just one step rather than a novel where there's a lot of failure before we get to step. That's more than nature of of a short story, because the short story is is just we're looking at just a piece of a life For a moment. We're putting a magnifying glass upto one piece of a life and saying, Let's focus there. So if you're writing short story, that's more how you would handle that. But if you're writing a longer story film novel, creative nonfiction, that's lengthy. You would have it the other way. So these and many goals are part of what I was calling a plot by plot Bite has a mini goal in it. So what is a plot bite look like? A plot bite is basically the hero has this goal, this mini goal and decides that she's going to act on it. So she has a goal. She decides to act on it. Unfortunately, something gets in her way. So she has a goal, she says. She'll act on the goal. There's an antagonizing force that keeps her from getting that goal. This can be an external goal, such as, you know, a villain stopping them with a fight or a teacher failing her when she, her big goal, is being the valedictorian. But it calls to be internal, so it can be an internal thing that stops Indiana Jones. Fear of steaks like Keep him from doing something he's afraid, or my insecurities like Keep me from doing something. So I'm a hero. I have a goal. I decide to act on that goal. Something keeps me from succeeding at that goal. I have a conflict. Because of it. I encounter the opposition of the external force or of my internal issues. So I have a goal. I act on that goal. I decided to go after it. I had some conflict that makes that difficult. That conflict then has a resolution, but very often that resolution is not positive for me, the protagonist. It's negative, at which point I now have to come up with a new plan because my plan A did not work now. Sometimes the outcome will be good because you want the hero to. You don't want your hair to always lose the conflict. That's boring. What makes retention is that sometimes the hero gets past the troll. But other times, no, this bad thing happens that he doesn't get this or they make it past the troll. But they lost this thing that they really needed, you know, So some something negative is happening. So Herro has a goal here, decides to go after a goal. Something is inhibiting the herro Herro runs into conflict. That's a resolution of that conflict, but it can mean that the hair is in a worse state. Then when the hair it started, or in some fashion, the heroes goal the film. Any goal was thwarted or not fully able to be completed in all the ways he or she wanted. So now the hero reacts to that comes up with a new plan. That new plan is your starting goal for your next plot bite. So the ending new plan of your first plot bite is the starting goal of plot bite number two . In this way, you link all of your scenes in a way that makes that plot fleshed out. Now, sometimes you have stories in which you have a scene with one character or a chapter with one character, and then we pick up with a chapter of another character. That's okay. Just make sure your plot bites are consistent. So of Chapter two ends with my student who wants to get into a really great university. And that ends with her having gotten a B on a test. And so now her plan is to go to the teacher for extra credit. That's okay if Chapter Three picks up with her mother at her office and then Chapter four picks back up with our schoolgirl. Chapter four, then is going to pick up from that of the plot point. Now again, keep in mind. This is so important. Very easy to talk about goals when we're talking about genre fiction and herro narratives. So if you're doing fantasy science fiction, any sort of mythological based story, anything that would relate to the hero's journey that Joseph Campbell outlined. This pits a lot easier mentally for you because those stories are far more goal oriented. If you're writing something with more literary fiction, pride and prejudice, Uh, you know, the Great Gatsby? Great expectations. All of these, the characters don't necessary. They're not necessarily jumping. Okay, here's my goal. Here's my goal. But they're still reacting to things. Life is happy. Life happens and we react to it. And we have to make a decision on how do we move forward with this information? So don't get hung up on the word goal like it has to be. This next thing that I have to achieve, you can think about it in terms of all right, I wanted something This happened. What do I do with this information? Now? How do I move forward? That's how you want to think of it. So that sort of structure that I just described is repeated again and again and again and again that those plot bite structures will look a little different and form premed point and post midpoint based on what we talked about. One other thing to think about with the steps that I went over. The first section of those are very action oriented. The last part of those is sort of a time to consider to recover, to figure out what to do next. This'll is important for stories because you can't overwhelm your reader or your viewer with constant action. We need breathing space, so character will have a goal that go after the gold. They'll have some conflict. They might work out against them. And then they've gotta like, Okay, regroup. And it could be a mental regrouping. It could be them kind of hustling away to a cave to figure out what to do. But it's a It's like a gift. Okay, breathe for a moment. Let me deal with what am I going to do? What's my new goal? Going to be? Okay, here is the next plan. All right, this is our next plan. So it's a moment of breathe. So when you do these goals, you're working in action, action, action, tension breathe. And the reader needs that we get exhausted. So make sure you if this goes back to my other courses tension and release the first part of that plot bite is tension, tension, tension release, and you'll do that throughout and you'll have bites that have more attention and by sort of less. And you have bites that are more release. Unless so, make that variety happen. And it doesn't have to be that something that has a lot of tension, then requires more of a time of release. You can have it like that, but not necessarily you. You will vary that and those times of release are times when that character is learning from the experience growing from the experience. We're not going to learn and reflect on that hardship in the moment. But once the hardships happened, all right, now I can think about what just happened. All right. In the next video, I want us to talk about that first plot bite and give you an example of what it looks. I can just say All right, I have to write these plot bites. How do I write my 1st 1? And then how do I string them together? 7. The First Plot Bite: Okay, I just want to give you an example off what these plot bites can be like. So let's say that our story the grand story, is about a girl who wants to be a doctor. The story itself might stored with her getting an acceptance letter toe of various prestigious, very expensive university. It's the only school she has applied to completely cannot afford it. She is poor. She lives with her siblings and her single mother, and there is no money for her to go to university. But that's her big goal. She wants to be a doctor. And so one of her many goals, of course, is get through university. So her first goal in a story like this about a girl trying to be a doctor might just be OK if the plot event itself that kicked everything in his congratulations you've been accepted to this wonderful but very expensive university First goal might say to herself, All right, I'm so glad I got in. I can't afford this, but my goal is I can do this. I just need to make enough money for first semester. I'll worry about paying for the rest of school later. Right now, I just need to earn a couple of $1000. My father put some money aside for me for school before he died, and so that money is there. And that money combined with the A few $1000 that I am sure I can earn in the next you know , month or whatever. I can get a job. I learnt that money, and then I'll go just semester one and I'll figure it out, figure it out from there. I just need to get enough money to pay this to go to start, so that might be her initial goal. But then she runs into conflict. Now she runs into both internal conflict and external conflict. Internally, she is feeling very guilty because her mother is desperately working to pay the bills and support her and her three quite younger siblings. There's a rather large age difference there, so her younger siblings really can't go get jobs of their own. And she knows that her mother was really relying on her that when she graduated, she would start working and help help pay bills. So she's feeling guilty inside because she loves her mother and she loves her siblings, and she feels like she'll be letting them down if she goes away to school. So there's that conflict she's dealing with. But the other conflicts she's dealing with is that her family doesn't want you to go. And so there there's going to be conflict there, and her mother kind of guilt her a lot about her desire to go because she simply doesn't want to. Daughter to go Now you want to remember that very often in these plot bites, the character ends up a little worse than before and has to dig herself out of it. So in the situation like this, we might have all right, What's the conflict like, What's this next step? So she said, Here's my goal. I'm going to go do this. She's got this internal conflict of feeling guilty. But then something happens. It's going to throw a wrench right? We need to have conflict. Her goal is to make some money and get on with things, and then we learn she wasn't going to actually tell her mother that she got into the university until she made the money, because then your mother couldn't say How are you going to pay for this? She could say, Look, I got into the university and I have saved this money. And with that money and the money that Dad saved for me, I'm going to go to university. Yeah, see a health problem? And so she doesn't want any kind of negativity from her parents before that, so she's not going to tell them. Unfortunately, one of her little brother's not meaning to, but he finds the acceptance letter in her room and takes the acceptance letter and shows it to a mother. So now her mother knows that she's been accepted and her mother confronts her and says, You can't go. You have responsibilities to this family. We need you here. To which she says, I love you, Mother and I but I'm going. I'm going. I'm going to earn this money. I'm going to combine it with the money from Father and I'm going to go. And then she learns mother had to use the money that her father sent saved for her to go to school to pay rent. That money is gone. So now these thousands of dollars this young woman thought was there so that she could go to uni isn't there. And now she thought she only had to earn a couple of $1000. But she actually has to earn $10,000 worse off, worse off. So then you hear that? You're like, Well, now what? Is she going to do this, then? Okay. Now she's in a reactionary state. She had a goal. She was struggling with that goal. She had some conflict internally. Her brother brought the letter so she had conflict with her family. There was a revelation from that conflict, which is Guess what? There's no money now. We're in this reactionary phase very often. The first part of a reactionary phases just flat out emotion. Now for us, we might dwell in a reactionary phase for a while. We might be in it for hours or days or weeks. Um, we can feel sorry for ourselves sometimes, but too long in a story. You can't do that. So there will be a reaction phase, and that's usually emotional to begin with. But then new gold. So we would then say to ourselves, All right now the chance to come up with $10,000 what's her new plan. Whatever that new plan is, is in the starting point for the next plot bite. In the next video, I want us to talk a little bit more specifically about how we string those plot bites together in a way that generates interest and moves that plot forward. 8. Stringing Plot Bites Together: as we discussed, a plot bite starts with a goal. That goal that it starts with is always the goal end goal that results from the former plot bite. But in between that, there's some kind of interlude where they're just feeling sorry for themselves. They're licking their wounds and regrouping. So we've had a character. She's had this terrible news. She had a goal that's been thwarted. She needs to regroup, breathe, figure it out, come up with her next goal that starts the next plot bite. What this means is that as you string plot bites together, you have these patterns. Okay, we have a mini plot, followed by many plot, followed by a mini plot. Each of these is its own little plot, with its own resolution. Don't conflict. And within those we see action reaction, action, reaction were seeing things are active scene breathing, interlude, active scene breathing interlude. So when we look at that, you could easily say yourself, Well, that kind of get boring unless I make some variety happen here, and that is so true. So each of those mini plot goals needs to be different. You need to shake it up with variety. Now we're going to get into a big list of things you can do to make variety and interest in your story. But I want us to just talk about a few things that you can do as you're designing these goals that sort of relate across the board. Now the first of these is just the goal itself. Sometimes your character goal will be physical. I need to go buy new shoes, but sometimes it will be a more intellectual goal, like I need to figure this thing out about myself. Or I need to, you know, come to terms with my sister's death. So difficulties will have the goals themselves will be different, and the difficulty of those goals will be different. Some will be much easier to achieve than others. So you want to vary both the kinds of goals I have, how difficult those goals are, how dangerous, how those goals effect of the people in the story. There are numerous ways those schools can be different. Likewise point to the nature of the conflict itself. Some conflict is far more external, so we have a goal that could be physical or mental or something like that, but we're going to run into conflict. The conflict to my going and buying new shoes might be that my car won't start. That's an external conflict. The conflict to my buying new shoes might be internal. I feel very guilty about spending the money to buy those new shoes so you can have conflict of different kinds, and you're gonna want to vary that kind of conflict. You could have a hero totally fighting it out with an enemy in one scene. Physically, you might have a hero arguing and having sort of a battle of the minds in a different scene or setting and maybe out. He's designing his battle strategy and strategizing about how to get around the enemy camp or something like that different kind of conflict that's a mental kind of conflict. Even when you think of literary fiction, be very careful that your scenes aren't old dialogue based or all exposition based. You want variety? Is that dialogue? Is it exposition? How much of each is it? So again vary the goal number to vary the kind of conflict that the reader that the character will get into you also want to vary the resolution that happens from that. Sometimes it will fall in favor of the protagonist, Austin. It will fall in part in favor of the protagonist. Sometimes it's flat out not in the protagonists favor, but often they might achieve part of their goal, but not all of their goal. Or they achieved their goal. But they lost something in the process. What kind of resolution variety can you come up with? Sometimes that blow that they get from the conflict is just devastating, and it totally wipes them out. And it's a terrible, horrible resolution to the conflict. But other times, um, it might be, say, a mental injury might be a physical injury. Maybe they lost someone that they loved. Maybe it's internal painting at a realization that this person they thought loved them, never loved them. All kinds of resolutions. So you're going to vary the goal. You're going to vary the conflict. You're going to vary the resolution. You're also going to vary the breathing space in between those interludes in between that and the next plot bite because you want those, remember that these are times of quiet in your story. These are times where I breathe us, a reader and your character's breathe. If the characters gone through a really big, big, terrible, horrible resolution in which they've experienced just deep, deep either physical pain or emotional pain, that interlude might last longer and might be more protracted if it was, unless damaging, um, conclusion to the conflict, then they're going to be able to bounce back quicker, so you're going to make sure they're reacting to that. But be true to it. Sometimes character is going to come out of that conflict and be just ready to go to the next thing. Sometimes they just might feel really defeated. You know, you sometimes just have those days where you just wake up and you say yourself, I'm just kind of done today. I just can't do it today. It's like that for all of us. It's like that for our characters, so we don't want to see your characters react in the same way all of the time. That doesn't allow us to get to know your character. You flesh your character out for us when we get to see her react in a lot of different ways . So when you write thes reactionary scenes know that they could go on for several paragraphs . They could go on for several pages. They could also be two sentences. It's going to depend on how you write that story. You want that kind of variety? Definitely. Keep in mind as you do this. Each of your plot bites is going to have conflict. But generally speaking, the stakes of that conflict are going to get bigger and bigger and bigger if you have this huge conflict. And then we see this other conflict that this smaller were not as interested. His readers were like, That's not as big a deal is what just happened. No, you want us to feel like Oh my goodness. But now that we're through that I need to feel like, oh my goodness all over again. So it's got to keep ratcheting up and ratcheting up and ratcheting up until you get to that big climax. So that means you need to ask yourself, what is the intensity of conflict for each one of these port bites? Another course I really recommend. Looking out is creating that scene outline. I have a course on creating a scene outline that will help you build your plot bites, so that has a great work sheet with it as well. So, in addition to plot, one of one of the scenes make, of course, definitely go look at the great the scenes outlined course, because that's going to help you immensely. So keep in mind you're going to ratchet that intensity up. The question when we go through this, then, is how long do we keep this train of plot bites up? How do we know in the last plot Bite is the last plot bite is when your characters mini goal is the climax. It's the next thing. So you've here we have a character and she's wanted to be a doctor all this time, and she's gone through university and she's gone through medical school and she's gone through all of these things. And now the next step, the next goal, all she has to do is past this examination, and then she will be awarded license to be a medical doctor. That's her last goal. That's the climax. That's those two things, coincide. That's how you will know when that plot point is. What this means is that the conflict that happens right here has to be really big. For example, here we are our student, who in the beginning just wanted to be a doctor. She's gone through all of this. She found the money to go to school. She got through school and then she got through medical school and she is ready and she's right there and she's just about to have it. She's study for the exam. She takes the exam. She feels great about the exam. She thinks she did a wonderful job. She gets the exam back. It reads 100%. She got, She nailed it. She got everything right on that exam. She's so excited. And then the teen asks to meet with her, and she's like, I've done it again. I made the top of my medical class to This is the most amazing thing ever. He's gonna walk me out. I'm going to get my medical license. This is a huge deal, and she walks in and they accused her of cheating. You cheated. We have evidence. Well, she didn't cheat, but they're certain that she did. We're not going to give you your license and you can't reapply for another year. So she has to fight that out, figure that out, convince them she wasn't cheating, bring to light. He was trying to work this against her. She brings it to light. She gets her degree falling Action Act three, wrapping it up with a nice bow. More often than not in your story that final plot bites Last climax is the worst position. It's the hardest thing the character goes through in the whole story. It's the most, and it's hurts because it's right there. It's right. But there at the end, and you could say to yourself, Well, is that really any worse than having to struggle to do this or that to get to school? In a sense, yes, because she's come this far because she's so close and this person who tried to frame her is that bad? So again, you want that to be the biggest climactic moment. That is what's going to usher in Act three. Okay, having talked about what act to slash the middle of your stories all about and how you can break it down into manageable bites, what I would like to do now is actually talk about just a bundle of different ways that you can keep things interesting 9. Keep the Reader Engaged with Plot: all right, in this section, we are just going to go through lots of bits of ideas on how you can make things interesting. I heartily recommend as you're writing your stories, that you sort of take time to brainstorm ideas on all of these things. Just brainstorm them, because then you can go back and you can refer to them, which will help you when you're actually designing your story. I've broken these up in something that seems more plot based or character based there really both. But this will help you, and we're just going to go through these all briefly, and then you can take them and use them as you will. So first thing always keep in mind what's going to keep it interesting or having peaks and valleys. Now, sometimes good things will happen, and it's just a nice good. It's like a nice little hill. Sometimes amazing things happen. Your character and gets a full scholarship to school, and that's a peak. That's just like, Whoa, really good news is supposed to Oh, I got that job that's gonna help me work through school. That's a good thing, but a full scholarship, big thing same thing with negative things. Sometimes it's like, Well, that's a hiccup in my plan. Sometimes it's like, Whoa, really bad thing that just happened. So you want peaks and valleys? You want soft peaks and low valid soft valleys, and you want sharp peaks and spork short valleys as well. So you you want to keep that in mind. You also want to keep in mind, varying the action. Sometimes you want more action in your story. Sometimes you want less. Now, in an action thriller type story, there's more of the action, but you've got to give me space to breathe. If your characters running all the time, then I'm not. The running is not going to mean very much to me, because that's what he always does. So we need moments of stillness as well. Now as we talked about before, the actions going to get harder. It's going to tensions going to build up. The problems are going to get bigger, the actions going to get more intense as you build. So a second thing that you can do in to make things interesting is to increase uncertainty . You do that through complications in their plans obstacles that are put in their way. These things make us feel uncertain. We don't want to feel safe all the time. As much as we love your protagonist, we want her to go through problems in something like an epic story that's photo dealing with The Night Riders and the Orcs and all of these different conflicts that come up. But again, in a story that's more literary like pride and Prejudice, this is Elizabeth Bennet dealing with her own prejudices, dealing with Darcy's aunt, who doesn't want them to get married, dealing with Mr Wickham, who runs off with her sister. All of these little things that she's dealing with, they're managing their things happening in her life, and she's coping with them. And you was one to remember your characters always gonna try to find the easiest answer there. I'm going to say, Well, what's the hardest thing I can do? They're always going to try to find the easiest way out of an issue, so really put yourself in your count to shoes. And don't just say what's going to happen next. To be interesting in my story, you're to be true to your character and saying, OK, given my story. What's the next easiest thing my character can do to get her goal? Because that's what she is going to do. So you increase uncertainty by incorporating obstacles into your story that can be sudden setbacks that happen. They can be just misunderstandings with other characters. They can be that they discover something that they didn't realize you were adopted. I didn't know so again. It can be a physical obstacle. It could be a misunderstanding. It could be a discovery that they have. All of these things are sort of thes uncertainties that are raised in the story. Another thing that you can do is, and by the way, these are all on your class outlines. So, please, do you have that in front of you and follow along the next thing that you can do sirens. Another thing that you can do is work on your subplots. Good stories have subplots, so just make sure that you have those. I'm not going to get into length here on how to build subplots, but you have great expectations. Pip has his friendship with Herbert. He has his relationship with Estella. There are subplots that are happening there, Lord of the Rings. You have the romances that are going on as well, so subplots will also create interest. Those subplots result in all again all your different characters having different goals, making sure all your characters have their own goals and things that they want. Also, don't lose your focus as you're building these subplots again. Every single subplot every scene needs to be related back to your overarching goal. I get into this in the great scenes, make a course and plot 101 Everything. All of it relates back to that primary goal. So while you're building these little connective scenes again, you have to ask yourself for every scene. How does this scene move my reader toward that overarching goal? Now, sometimes you have scenes where really the scene. It's not like I'm any closer to more door, but I've learned things. I've grown. I've learned skills. I've learned perspective. I've learned things that will then help me to get that ring to more door. So sometimes it's just real character development that can happen. Sometimes it looks as though gold wise photos farther away from where he wants to be not closer, but he's grown somehow from that scene, So you want to keep that in mind as you're building, Do not lose your focus. Keep focused on that climactic goal. Another thing you can do is just put in false climax. Bring your character to a point where the readers think this is it, and then they find it's not. And if you can bring them to that point of increased tension, where they really feel like its it and it's not, it's going to deeply heighten the sense of climax that eventually comes. But to achieve that, well, you have to make sure that your climax really is climactic another thing. And this is so important. Don't resolve everything at the same time. Don't make it so that everybody has their many goals and they're all resolved right there at the end way of goals, Resolve all the time. And you I have taken a step back and the things that you were wanting but character be, might have taken three steps forward in his goal and feels very happily resolved about it. You want a variety in terms of who's having resolution, how they feel about their goals where they're standing, how they feel about themselves. Keep that variety going. Another thing that's going to help bring tremendous amount of cohesion to your stories is having a solid through line. The through line is you have a lot of threats kind of going through your story. You could have a lot of different kinds of through lines, but you want something that connects every single scene. It's an element that isn't everything, and that is what part of what really creates solid cohesion through lines can be a number of things. They can be thematic, so it's just you have several themes or a theme in your story. Have that through line that's moving throughout most of the scenes. It kind of draws through. It glues everything together. It can be character. We just have really solid character development that's happening from scene to scene to scene. Um, it can be plot based. It can be motif in which imagery or metaphor is constantly there. We just have a lot of metaphor of one kind or another in the story, and it's constantly cropping up. Doesn't have to meet every scene. No, but it needs to be a very consistent thing throughout that I'm feeling I could ever present in your story. It can be a mood. It can be, you know, just a sense this a somber feeling story is this very lighthearted story, you know, figuring that out and then the language itself can be a through line, having a deep style to your story that that keeps a cohesion to it. So again, theme, character, plot, motive, mood language. All of these things. If you, if you make them connected and thorough in your story, will help hold things together. So I have to also say, as we're saying, all of these ideas don't overcomplicate things. Stories can easily become too unwieldy, too complicated, too many characters with too many subplots and too many goals. And when that happens, your readers lose their focus. They stopped carrying. It's much better to have a focus on a few people and really delve into those in depth rather than over complicating things. We've basically talked about this through a lot of different things, but you really want to make sure you're putting variety in your stories, and by this I don't just mean even everything we've already talked about. Um, Are you focusing too much on one character? Too much on one theme to watch on one motif. Mix it up. I make sure that you're dealing with physical things. Make sure you're dealing with emotional things. Make sure you're dealing with, you know, intellectual things. Just give me a variety of experience so that I'm not bored. Definitely another way to do this Dislocation. Changing up your location will help immensely. Great expectations. Pick goes loads of different places. He's in his home. He's over in Miss Havisham house. He's in London, He's in a boat. He's all over the place, and that changed. The location can be very helpful and very, very interesting. The final thing, I would say on the plot section of my advice is, Don't make it too long. It can go on and on and on and just feel like too much. The most powerful stories are the one that the ones that don't use a single extra scene to tell them ever seen is necessary and not a single scene extra. Those air really powerful stories Now, having said that, I love great expectations, and that's one that you could say it has some extras to it that could be pulled out. That's the nature of how Charles Dickens was writing. So I don't take that advice is law by any means. But in general, when you're plotting your stories, you, you want less is more less is more. Don't overdo it. All right in the next video, I want to continue to look at examples of how we can make our stories interesting and engaging, but we're going to look at the character side of things. 10. Keep the Reader Engaged with Character: one of the first things that you can do to make characters more interesting in your stories is simply to introduce new ones. It's a wonderful opportunity when you bring a new fresh character into a story that can breathe life into it. So don't feel like you should introduce all your characters at once. Let me meet new, wonderful, interesting characters as I go. This is part of what makes the Narnia stories. So much fun is that the Children are constantly meeting new, very interesting characters throughout the stories. Each has his or her own personality and owned contribution to the mission or hindrance to the mission. So use variety and introduced new characters and make sure that those characters and that you're supporting characters in particular that there really interesting Give your time and attention to them. Go through the character profile course, go through some of these character building courses, give your supporting characters and arc, give them unique perspective. Consider their internal and external issues and how those things are manifested. Take time to develop those supporting characters so that your protagonist is not your only flushed out character. And when you do this, make sure that these supporting characters really are part of what gets the plot pushed forward. You want to make sure that they are needed in the necessary, and that they really do have an impact on the the events in the story that you could not just lift them out and yet have the same story. So keep that in mind as you're doing that. Remember that what also creates conflict or character relationships? The conflict should not just be between the protagonist and the antagonist really think about? How can I develop some interesting dynamics in between these characters again? I have a course on this on creating character dynamics and interactions between characters , and I recommend going and watching that. But how have friends get in conflict? Have friends getting fights, have lovers pushed away from each other and romance very often in middle is when they're not together and things aren't working out. That's certainly true of pride and prejudice. So think about those character relationships and how you can make them interesting. Another thing that definitely creates conflict is when you kill someone off. So if you're really looking for in the moment, you know, make someone die off, But again, you're gonna want to make sure it's somebody we're really going to miss otherwise just sort of like, OK, And finally, I want to talk a bit about difficult people because difficult people can advance the plot very, very much so you can use abrasive characters to push your character arc deep in the theme. We keep the plot moving forward because thes air the characters that get in the way and again all about conflict. What can we do to get in the way of our protagonist so that she or he has to then come up with some new way of achieving their goal and moving forward? And there are several ways that difficult people do this. They undermined your protagonist. So one way to do that is to assess your character strengths and then have someone who has better strengths, stronger strengths who overcomes your character strengths, undermining the gift your character has, whether it's Harry who's dealing with a more experienced powerful wizard or a young woman whose in love with a man and wants to marry him, but who's dealing with a very much more conniving than she is young woman who also wants to marry him. Somebody undermines your protagonist. They will also number two. They will pray on the weaknesses of your protagonists, so that difficult person's going to find out your protagonist weak spots and go after that . One way to do this is to really think about what are the weaknesses in my protagonist that I would like to see him or her improve. Focus on those because we want to see character Grove So you want to pick the traits. The weakness is that the antagonised or difficult person's going to go after. Make those that traits. You want to show growth in in your character because it's not satisfying toe. A secure character has this weakness, and we don't see are developing anyway from it. The way she'll develop out of that weakness is being challenged in that space. In that weakness, she'll be forced to do something about it, and the final thing that difficult people can do is simply make your life more complicated . A difficult person does not have to be the antagonist. It's simply a difficult person in our story about the young woman who wants to be a doctor , her mother loves her. It's not that her mother doesn't want her to be a doctor. It's that her mother thinks that it's not possible and that she needs her there. And in that way her mother is being difficult person, so difficult people just make it more difficult. Maybe they could have snuck through the crowd. The protagonist in her side, Cook, could have snuck through the crowd. No problem, because the side kick loves ice cream and had to stop at the ice cream stall and get an ice cream cone while they're trying to escape. That caused problems. The police almost caught up with them, so then they had to go do this other thing. That's the sort of thing. It's a difficult person, not a bad person, not even necessarily the antagonise, but someone who makes life more difficult. All of those things that you can do to work into your stories in the next video, I would just like to do a brief wrap up and talk about the course worksheet 11. Final Thoughts and Class Project: I hope this course has been helpful. There's a lot to writing the middle, but so much of it is plot based again. I cannot recommend enough that if you still feel like you have questions I have listed on the worksheet and on the class notes. Other courses I've done that will help you immensely plot one A one great sings mega course , and that course outline course will all help you with this as well as dynamic character relationships. So I've included all of those there. Please take a look at them because it will help you, and those two have resources that can help you actually put the lessons into practice. Now for this course, I do have a worksheet that has several questions on it that will help you start to brainstorm what this middle could look like for you. One of the greatest mistakes that I see students make us that they crippled themselves, thinking that the decisions that they make first decisions that have to be, it's much better to sort of start to just brainstorm things, brainstorm anything. Start to think about your plot. Start to think about things that sort of could happen and see how you can leverage variety into those. You'll find that as you do that, and you give yourself that freedom to just dream about what the possibilities can be, it will be much easier to then go in and put that into practice. So I do recommend going and working on that worksheet. If you have questions that this didn't address and those other classes don't address, please feel free to leave comments in the class discussion. I'm more than happy to answer them. I thank you very much for watching. Please. Also, if this interests you do, check out my website inside it for my mailing list, because I do offer other courses, other learning opportunities that are not on here, and I would hate for you to miss them. Having said all of that, I wish you the very best of luck with your riding. Thank you for watching, and I will see you again soon. Fine