The Plotting Workshop: Mid-point Mirror

mid-point-mirrorOne more catch up day today, Ninja.

We’re headed toward the mid-point of your story, so I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about a concept that absolutely changed the way I write. When I was first taught about this little writing trick, it was one of those ah-ha, mind-blown-wide-open moments.

The mid-point mirror is simple and once you know about it, you will see it every time you take in a story in any form.

The concept is this: the tone of the mid-point of your story will mirror the tone of the end of your story. As long as you’re not writing a tragedy (more on that in a minute), that means that your mid-point climax is a big win for your protagonist.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the mid-point climax comes when Harry plays in his first quidditch match and wins the game by swallowing the snitch.

In The Wizard of Oz, the mid-point climax comes when Dorothy and her entourage finally make it past the gatekeeper and into the Emerald City.

The mid-point climax is the second biggest moment of your story. The only climactic scene bigger is the main climax, which is opposite in tone to the end of your story and is often called the Dark Night of the Soul. It’s the darkest moment for your MC. The moment when it seems as if all is lost. That climax is followed by a twist that turns the story around again so that it ends on a much higher note.

The high of the mid-point highlights the low of the main-climax, which makes the high of the end all the sweeter.

See how that works?

If you are writing a tragedy–well, first, lets make sure you’re actually writing a true tragedy. A story can be very, very sad without being a tragedy. The publisher issued tissue packets to people who went to see movie version of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, but that story is not a tragedy. A true tragedy is a story where the only positive outcome, in the end, for the MC is death.

If you determine that your novel is indeed a true tragedy, then your story arc is flipped. Your mid-point climax will be a low point, so that it mirrors the end tone of the story.

Think about the movie Seven. Morgan Freeman plays a detective on the verge of retirement. Brad Pitt plays an energetic young detective. They take on the case of a serial killer using the seven deadly sins as a playbook. The mid-point scene comes when the detectives nearly catch the killer, but he escapes. The main climax comes when the serial killer walks into the presinct to turn himself in.

Contrast that to The Wizard of Oz, where the mid-point happens when Dorothy and her friends finally get inside the Emerald City and the main climax happens when they are all nearly killed by the Wicked Witch, who Dorothy melts with a bucket of water.

The mid-point climax is the third key plot point in your story. It happens at the end of the fourth sequence, the start of the second part of Act II. When we start talking about it tomorrow, keep in mind that what you’re looking for here is a big win for your MC (unless you’re writing a tragedy.)

Make sure to come by Facebook and share your work.

If you want to see this whole course on Teachable, for free, click here.

You may also like