Tuesday, 28 January 2014


I often hear aspiring writers say ‘I know the beginning to my short story and I know the end - it’s the middle bit I struggle with‘.

Ah, middles! Here are some thoughts on getting them right. When an aeroplane takes off and lands, it’s interesting, but the middle can get boring. Too much of the same thing.

Same with stories but if you think that the middle is there to keep the story going, rather than filling the bit between the beginning and the end, it may help.

The middle allows you to develop the plot, create tension, allow the development of layers of the story, let the characters grow. It’s not padding, it has work to do.

Middles should be as long or as short as needed, not overwritten or underwritten; unless you are given a set target, let the story dictate the length. We set a top limit of 2000 words for the Global Short Story Competition but many writers go for much less because that is all that the story requires.

Resist the temptation to pack too much intro your middle - concentrate on one story, perhaps just one or two main characters. Introduce too much, too many characters, sub-plots, and you may end up doing it all badly.

It may help to write in episodes (like short chapters) to keep the pace going and allow the story to build to the ending.
Still time to enter this month’s competition at www.inscribemedia.co.uk

John Dean

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