10 Questions for the Midpoint of your Novel

I’m in the process of writing the super-ooper drecky draft of my current WIP.

It’s pretty stinky. But that’s a-ok because I know I can go back and spit and shine it up and make it perty. (But probably minus the spit. Not only is that gross, there’s probably some better tried and true methods for revising a novel.)

For the last while I’ve been trudging through the mucky middle. And last week I found myself at…

The. Midpoint. The. Midpoint. The. Midpoint.

(Imagine that just echoing in an ominous manner.)

Yes, the very middle of the story. I knew I was there because I wrote up an outline using Tasha’s brilliant method and answering these fifty questions about my outline.

So, I wrote the middle. I thought it was pretty good. (Nah, I probably squinted my eyes at it and figured it was good enough to keep typing. So, I did.)

And then I started writing the next part. And as I went along… my….. writing……. began……… to………….. slow…………………..down.

After days of forcing myself to squeeze words out of my fingertips like my kids try to squeeze toothpaste out of an empty tube because it’s just SO HARD to go grab a new one out of the storage room*, I finally realized the problem.

The. Midpoint. The. Midpoint. The. Midpoint.

(There goes that pesky echo again.)

I’d gotten it wrong. And at first I wasn’t totally sure why. So, I did some research. I read about writing brilliant midpoints and I thought long and hard about the midpoints of books and movies I love. And I came up with ten questions to ask myself to help my midpoint be considerably less-stinky. (I was going to say good, but let’s be honest here. A first draft isn’t for good. The best we can hope for is tolerable.)

10 Questions for your Midpoint

#1: What is the goal of the midpoint of your story?

#2: Is it a pivotal moment? (If yes, then…Huzzah! If no, then…erm….Boo.)

#3: What new information does your MC gain?

#4: How does the midpoint up the tension in your story?

#5: Does the course of the story change in some way? Does the paradigm of the story shift?

#6: How does your MC’s motivation change?

#7: Does your main character question what he/she believed to be true up to this point?

#8: Is everything going great for your MC during the midpoint? Or does everything go horribly wrong?

#9: Does the midpoint send your MC rolling inevitably towards the climax?

#10: Is the midpoint surprising? Does something happen that hasn’t happened before? Is there a plot twist?

What do you think the midpoint of a novel needs to be great?

* It could also have something to do with the fact that I’m always forgetting to buy toothpaste and my kids are aware of this. And so instead of having to go to school wearing orange sweaters on their teeth they’re trying desperately to find a speck of toothpaste to clean their pearly-whites…er…pearly-oranges with. 


Erin Shakespear writes middle grade fantasy full of quirky creatures, magic, and strange adventures. With six kids, her days are full of quirky creatures, magic, strange adventures, and…loads of diapers. She also likes to dabble at photography, sewing, jewelry-making, and pretending she’s a grand artist.

2 thoughts on “10 Questions for the Midpoint of your Novel

  1. One thing I've noticed in a couple of books I really liked recently is that about halfway through the book (the midpoint), the characters realized that they had built their well-meant actions and thrown themselves all the way in the water on the basis of a false assumption/incomplete or wrong information. It was devastating to them, and they had to take a moment to let the truth sink in, and then formulate an attack plan for the rest of the novel. Think of Savvy–she thinks her savvy is X, but then she finally has to admit that it's really Y. Meanwhile, the original problem (dad in a coma) is still there, plus she's stuck in a bus with all these kids, going the wrong way. What now? Maybe that's what they mean by the term “midpoint reversal”? All I know is that it's an effective technique!


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