Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Finding that elusive mid-point milestone

Last night my husband and I saw Leap Year. He's now sucked into my little game-- identifying the first plot point, the mid point milestone and the second plot point in the movies. Leap Year, besides being a wonderful romance flick (btw the chemistry between Amy Adams and the Irish dude is incredible!), the three points were a bit more challenging to identify. I won't go into it here, don't want to give away the film if you've not seen it yet! But if you do, try to figure them out. It's kinda tricky!

In my wip, I can easily identify the first plot points for both Marcie (main plot) and Cindy (sub plot). I think I even have the second plot points figured out. But I'm still confused on where the mid point milestones are. I have no clue where Cindy's is. In fact, I'm not sure there is one. I think I know what Marcie's is, but it needs further examining. I didn't get to it during this writing session.

I have a feeling it's there and I'm simply overlooking it. Brooks says that it's obvious, flexible, and easily overlooked by inexperienced writers, or those not accustomed to writing according to story structure. (ha ha, that's me)

He also says, "Before the Mid-Point both the hero and the reader experience the story with limited awareness of the real truth behind what’s going on. Because it reveals significant new information, everything after the Mid-Point carries new weight and dramatic tension."

Okay, this is good. I'm going back in for another look. But first, back to bed for my three hour morning nap lol! Meanwhile, something to ponder: What's the mid-point milestone in a story you're reading or writing? Did you catch it? Not sure? Me neither!


  1. I wonder if this is really in every book (and movie) at exactly mid-point. Since you wrote the last mid-point post, I've been giving it some thought. It doesn't work in the seventh Harry Potter book. His mid-point realization doesn't occur until he sees Snape near the end. Unless there was another point and I'm missing it? Maybe in series (or if you're J.K. Rowling), you can play around with this concept.

  2. Hi Theresa,

    Yes I went to several books I'm familiar with (my own for one lol) and didn't see that it's smack dab in the middle either. Course, I have a really hard time identifying the mid-point milestones. I'm still honing my skills. I think I can write them, I just don't recognize when I'm doing it! And JK Rowling can make her own rules at this point, right?!

  3. A good point to keep in mind as we build our stories, definitely. And now you've got me thinking, so I'm going back to the last couple of books I've read to find that mid-point.

  4. I think my mid-point comes in MASQUERADE when Penny sees William at the restaurant. Although now you've got me thinking (which is something I'm not too fond of doing when it comes to my own writing.) Thanks for the post.

  5. Hi

    Mid point milestone? Gosh... I'm currently trying to finish Ars Memoriam (a novella that I get to review and then pass to others) between feeling really grotty with my rotten cold and blowing my nose...but I guess the mid-point in this story is when the hero is kidnapped by the wife of the person who was his only contact in this foreign country. The hero is a spy. Everything now changes when he realises the wife of said contact IS the contact and that her husband has long been murdered...

    Wow! What a great way to think about the story's structure - gives writing a more disciplined outlook - something I know I truly lack. So thank you for this wonderful series of advice.

    Take care

  6. Writing and wondering with a few thoughts:

    1) Are you planning this out first or is your WIP a work in progress?? I am loving hearing about how it is growing, but am curious as to whether this has affected the way you traditionally work.

    2) The midpoint milestone reminds me of the 'Golden section' which the point of natural division and can be applied to art. music etc and suggests the peak of a work - or is this to follow? traditionally, the division is at the two thirds point with a third to maybe room for a peak after midpoint milestone?

    keep 'em coming x

  7. Kate B, The wip is a work in progress. I wrote a very rough skeleton draft, then went back in to adjust and fill out according to Brooks' story structure. Normally this isn't how I write, I'm organic, never outline, but I thought this would be a fun way to challenge myself while improving my writing skills and hopefully my novel.

    Insightful reference! The golden section, the golden triangle-- I think that's exactly what it is!! First point being the first plot point, second the midpoint milestone, third the second plot point. Although in literature, I think we have some leeway-- more than in screenwriting, according to Brooks. Yet the timing is still essential, none of it can feel rushed.

  8. Kitty, sorry you're not feeling well! Reading and blogging is the best remedy lol! And lots of oranges.

    Piedmont Writer, I hope you figured yours out easier than I'm figuring out mine!

    Joanne, and I'm wondering-- will they come right in the middle of the book?

  9. Ah, the midpoint. I believe I did succeed with the third MS-now working on the current MS and just driving to the end--praying it'll all work out. It will, but sometimes what I THOUGHT was the MidPoint, isn't and another plot point shifts and moves to that section.

    Good Luck!

  10. I don't know that I ever look when I'm reading but I should know what that point is in my own books. I hope anyway.


  11. I am currently at my WIP mid-way point so this post is very timely.

    The book in my hand at the moment is The Tale of Edgar Sawtelle. I am smack bang in the middle and I think the mid-point milestone is the evolving relationship between Edgar, his mother and her lover.

    Of course I could be totally mistaken because this book is so laborious there may not be a milestone at all in the 600+ pages!

  12. I am finding it very hard to think of my story in this way but am persevering - it's good to have some structure in mind. A bit like eating your broccoli, though haha

  13. Jenny, eating your broccoli--apt comparison, except I love broccoli, I guess for me it would be like taking my vitamins, ugh, which I can barely swallow.

    Donna, I'll watch for your review on Edgar Sawtelle. The movie looks horrible but I might like the book. I enjoy dark in my books, not my films.

    Ann, I finally found it in my novel. At least in Part One, and yes, it is very close to the middle. I think it's more difficult to pinpoint in character-driven works. That's my excuse lol!

    Christine, you sound like my kind of writer-- organic all the way and praying it somehow comes together when it's all said and done!

  14. I am trying to identify the mid point plot in the novel I am currently reading. Very unsure about it. Not very skilled at this. But know that it has been pointed out to me, I am determined to find the mid-points. Wasn't the scenery just wonderful in "Leap Year" made me homesick!

  15. I've just been reading The Right Hand of the Sun by Anita Mason about Cortes's war against the Aztecs. Amazingly suspenseful even though you always know what the big-brush resolution is going to have to be!

    The mid-point is when the Spaniards' negotiations with Muctezuma break down and they're forced to evacuate Tenochitlan (and yes, when that happened I flipped the book over to work out whether it was pretty much halfway - it was!). The plot just keeps rattling along after that through multiple points of view...

    I now won't even let myself start a story until I can answer 'So which of these events is the mid-point context shift...?'