Blueprint of a Novel: The Middle
This is the second installment of three. Check back Thursday for the third and final piece!
Last week, I outlined the basic blueprint for Act One of your novel. Today I will go over the blueprint for the middle of your novel, or Acts (Parts) Two and Three. To clarify acronym usage: FPP is First Plot Point and SPP, second. I do not abbreviate Pinch Points. Have no clue what I’m talking about? Keep reading.
Act Two (Part Two): Response
Human Reaction: Your hero isn’t a hero yet. Thus, your hero has a very human reaction to the FPP. He hides, seeks shelter and safety from the harsh, cruel world that changed on him. He responds to the FPP by retreating to assess the situation from safety.
Regroup: Part of your hero’s response it to regroup. Once he has retreated, he comes to terms with the big change the FPP presented. He gathers himself and prepares to be a hero, but he doesn’t realize he can’t. He still has those inner demons to conquer.
Pinch Point: This is the middle of Act (Part) Two. The pinch shows the antagonistic force in its full glory without filtering it through the hero first. It can be a scene from the antagonist’s PoV, a statement from another character, or anything else that bypasses your hero’s filter. It’s often brief, simple, and always reminds the reader what the antag is capable of doing and what is at stake.
Action: Your hero has gathered information on the antagonistic force and is ready to take it down. Of course, it’s too early for this plan to work. We know it will fail. Your hero doesn’t, and will charge full-steam ahead with a mind full of success.
Doom: The hero fails. The antagonist shows up more powerful than ever and squishes your hero. It’s important to know that your hero falls short because of his inner demons. Whatever shortcomings he had at the beginning are still shortcomings, and he will not win until he overcomes those.
Mid-Point: This is the Second Disaster, or Mini-Climax. All of Act (Part) Two builds to this milestone. This is in the middle of the novel and presents new information that raises stakes and increases tension. This is the parting of the curtain, and though you can hide this information from the hero, it must kick the story into high gear.
Sources and further reading:
Act Three (Part Three): Attack
Inner Demons: Part three is where your hero realizes what holds him back and begins to change it. He sees his flaws, understands that they are preventing him from being the hero, and works to overcome them.
Attack: The hero is on the move now. He is sick of being a sitting duck and has decided to end things once and for all. Maybe. This attack will also end in failure, more than likely, but it demonstrates your hero becoming a proactive warrior instead of the introspective thinker from Act Two.
Second Pinch Point: Same as the first one, but in the middle of Act (Part) Three instead. The Second Pinch Point should show how the villain has improved his game, just as the hero has his. This is probably why the hero’s attack fails.
Pre-Second Plot Point Lull: Before the Second Plot Point, there is a bit of a lull where all seems lost. The hero failed, again, even after coming to terms with his inner demons. The antagonistic force is larger than ever, and the hero can’t seem to do anything right. Woe is the world.
Second Plot Point: Also known as the Climax and the Third Disaster, the Second Plot Point is the last place you can introduce new information. You know the final attack is on, and your hero is more determined than ever to win. This is at the 75% mark and fully equips your hero to kick ass.
Sources and further reading:
That’s all for the middle. As a reminder, this is not a statement of all that constitutes the middle. This is a blueprint, or a basic idea of where you need to go in your story. This is a general structure with blank spaces between each milestone for you, the writer, to fill in. Whether you fill them in beforehand or as you go is up to you.
Everything you see here is a summary of Larry Brooks’ Story Structure Series. If you like the information I’ve outlined here, I highly recommend further reading into Larry’s 10-part series. Check back Thursday for the third and final installment of my blueprint series!