Meet Me in the Middle: How to Keep Your Readers Intrigued With a Compelling Conflict

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Last week Madeleine taught us about how to write a strong beginning for our 10-minute scenes by focussing on structural organization. Our prompts are a great way to help you get started!

This week I'll be talking about middles. No matter what length your writing project, middles are important because they represent the bulk of your story. It's easy to get caught up in the writing and let your scene, or story, drag out, with a directionless, unorganized middle. But this will bore your reader, whom you want along for the entire ride.

So how can we keep the reader interested after getting off to a strong start (with one of our many great real life writing prompts)?

Why, with the three C's, of course!

Middles: Characters, Conflict, Climax

All stories, no matter how short or long, are about characters and their conflicts. These conflicts can be internal, such as a character struggling with an emotional problem, or external, such as being chased by bad guys.

So in your 10-minute scenes, once you're off to the races, start thinking about developing the conflict. You can do this by answering three key questions:

  1. What do my characters want?
  2. What must they do to get it?
  3. What's preventing them from taking this action?

The space between where your characters are and where they want to be is your conflict.

In your short scenes, you might not have enough room to follow your characters as they actually take action on their problem, and maybe that's not even what your scene is about, but you can still establish the conflict in your scene in order to keep your readers hooked.

Another question to ask yourself is simply where is your scene going? You might want to take a moment to answer that question first, or let your imagination run free while writing then go back to edit it later.

The climax of a story or scene is the resolution of the problem. In your daily writing, you may choose to end your scene right at the climax, or, if time permits, include a dénouement, or falling action, that closes everything off.

Next week, Madeleine will be teaching us how to improve our writing with strong endings, so I'll say no more about that.

The important thing to remember for now is that stories need conflict, and the way to get through the middle of your story is to focus on that conflict and what your characters do to rectify it.

Happy Writing! And don't forget to share your 10-minute scenes with us in the comments below.