Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (Part 24)

This entry is part 24 of 27 in the series Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Bridging Conflict

Here is where we get back to that in media res thing.

Keeping your readers constantly on the move, and that is following you not leading, is a critical point in the whole beginning in the middle of things technique. The idea here is that readers will be drawn in to stories where they need to figure out what is going on because they are already missing half the event that occurred before. It’s a good trick, but as Maass points out it will only take you so far. Eventually you must help the reader catch up and then when they are caught up, you bring on the main act again, the primary conflict.

Here in a nutshell is the technique of bridging conflict. Whether short and sweet or drawn out for many pages, it always works the same way: A series of smaller conflicts serves to capture and keep our attention until the main conflict or first event of the story arrives.

Maass walks us through a great example from P.D. James’ A Certain Example. I highly encourage you to read it. I am not going to quote from it, but what I will say is that as you read these passages along with Maass’ explanation pay close attention to how you would write this intricate series of connected plot points. How would you go about creating the structure? And it is a structure. If you don’t see it as such, then you are going to have a dilly of a time writing it because without careful attention to plotting you are going to find yourself deep within the revisions and a very unhappy writer indeed.

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