The Midpoint Of A Novel In The Context Of The Story Arc

Act II is underway, and your story is dragging. What do you do?

A dragging story is not what we want as authors, so let’s look at how to fix this.

A good story contains key plot events. To create a story readers love, these events must happen at the right time — including the midpoint.

If you’ve written the inciting incident and plot point 1 well, then at the midpoint, you’ll be taking your readers on a journey where the protagonist moves from a reactionary mode to a proactive mode.

The midpoint of your novel happens at around 50% of your story’s total word count. It’s also about halfway through the second act. So that was a little obvious…but had to be said.

The events following your midpoint will lead the reader to plot point 2 (at the end of Act II), and then on to the climax.

Key Scenes In The Story Arc

The inciting incident is the moment the protagonist’s world changes in a dramatic way.

Plot point 1 is the point of no return. The character can’t back out of the central conflict. This is the moment when the setup of the story ends and Act I is over.

The midpoint is when the protagonist changes from reactive to proactive.

Plot point 2 happens when your protagonist discovers something that allows him to finish his mission, or he thinks all is lost. This depends on the type of story your writing. Act II is over.

The climax is where your protagonist faces the biggest obstacle in the story. She may or may not win…

How To Make Your Midpoint Sparkle

At the midpoint, make something terrible or life-changing happen to your protagonist. This will raise the stakes.

Your protagonist needs to find the strength to deal with whatever horrible thing you’ve made happen or she’ll lose everything.

Because of this, she’ll decide to do something and take the rest of the book to do it. Meaning, the event has to be significant.

At the midpoint point, your reader should understand the story is moving in a new direction.

Depending on the type of story you’re writing, the event could be emotional, spiritual, or action packed. It must fit your story. Even though the midpoint is an exceptional event, remember the climax has to have even higher stakes.

Famous Midpoints:

Note: there are story spoilers, so don’t read this section if you want to read the book or see the movie.

Gone Girl: Nick wants to improve his image and gives a press conference. Amy’s “secret” best friend attacks, demanding to know what he did with Amy. Nick must now get proactive if he’s going to save himself.

The Martian: Mark Watney finds out his supplies are going to be delayed and believes he’s going to die on Mars. This results in kicking him into action to figure out how to live long enough for the supplies to get to him.

The Philosopher’s Stone: During a Quidditch match, Harry’s Nimbus 2000 broom takes Harry on a ride. Snape casts a spell. Hermione lights Snape’s cloak on fire. Harry can’t ignore all this and must become proactive

Twilight: Bella sees Edward’s true power. This strengthens how she feels about him, and she’ll do anything to be with him.

See Inciting Incident In The Context Of The Story Arc and Plot Point 1 In The Context Of the Story Arc for more on these stories.

Fictionary is online software that simplifies story editing. Why not check out Fictionary’s free 14-day trial and tell better stories?


 Post written by Kristina Stanley, best-selling author of Look The Other Way(Imajin Books, Aug 2017).

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