“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today … a Savior has been born to you … the Messiah, the Lord.” —Luke 2:10-11 NIV
Winter is upon us. Here’s my Christmas gift to you who have children, grandchildren, or teach preschoolers. In winter, children must often stay inside when it’s too cold to play outside. Here’s an activity to allow children to use their large muscles and expend their energy so they can sit awhile.
A Friendly Indoor Snowball Fight
Inexpensive white panty hose or tights
Directions to make snowballs:
Cut each leg of panty hose into 4-5-inch sections.
Sew one end of each section closed by hand or on a sewing machine. Don’t worry about neat stitches.
Pack sections with polyester fiberfill to make balls.
Sew open ends closed.
Make about 25 “snowballs” for a good, but safe, battle.
Directions for play:
Find a safe indoor area. If you don’t have a playroom or large area free of fragile or dangerous items, back your car(s) out of the garage. We use a large, open foyer.
Place a rope, wrapping paper rolls, or yardsticks end to end to separate the space for a safer fight.
Divide up children (and adults) and “snowballs” so you’ll have even, armed teams on each side of the “line.”
Explain the rule that team members must not cross the line.
Have an adult give the signal, “Fire away!” and start a mental or real timer for a minute of battle.
Have an adult call, “Cease fire!” at the end of a minute.
Declare the side with the least “snowballs” the winners.
Play for ten to fifteen.
Alternate play: No sides, no teams, no rules, except banning physical contact.
I’ve used my “snowballs” for large-muscle play for years with preschoolers at home, in Sunday school, and at Bible Study Fellowship. No child was ever hurt when bonged in the face with one of these “snowballs.”
An indoor winter activity for children: a “snowball fight!” Click to tweet.
“The middle of our story should be the ‘meat’ of the story, as far as conflicts and arcs. Without setting up the obstacles here, any solution in the final act will seem too easy and won’t be as satisfying.” —Jamie Gold
I pulled 5 books from my shelves. I paged to the middle scene of each book. Here’s what happened in each novel in the scene just past middle. (No spoilers.)
1. The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
Rivers didn’t let me rest long from a big revelation. She teased me with a ruse to free Cadi away from her parents to make a clandestine visit. Then Cadi’s brother, who’s loyal to her father, pushes Cadi for the truth. While I’m fearful for Cadi, Rivers has Cadi reveal her life’s burning secret. Now Cadi feels called to do activities that’ll put her in danger.
With the promise of new obstacles and danger, no sagging middle here.
2. Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann
Heitzmann reveals to Rese a secret about her mother in the middle scene. Rese tells Lance about her childhood with her mother, and Lance shares a secret from his past to show Rese he understands. Then he drags Rese from one place to another challenging her to do things he knows are good for her. But this causes her to panic, a reaction to her biggest secret of all.
What will happen next?
3. Blind Justice by James Scott Bell
When lawyer Jake thinks he’s done well in court, the judge gives him a “Doc Marten to the stomach.” In the next scene, he’s tempted to surrender to his damaging habit. When his client’s sister arrives to offer help, he rebuffs her overtures. But he has conflicting feelings toward her. She relates an instance from their childhood, to show him what he’s doing now. He runs her off, then feels he’s lost “the last light of day.”
Bell refuses to ease the tension in the middle.
4. The Shunning by Beverly Lewis
Midway through the book, Lewis reveals a secret from the past. A “big problem” accompanies the secret on the eve of Katie’s marriage. Lewis adds to the tension and gives Katie anxious feelings about marrying someone who isn’t her first love. Then Lewis stirs more tension and foreshadows in Katie’s thoughts reactions to the “big problem.”
Are similarities occurrng to keep the middle taut? Meaningful secrets, revelations, problems, obstacles, tension, and more secrets.
5. The Road to Testament by Eva Marie Everson
In the middle scene, even though the guy Ashlynne’s attracted to breaks their date, she thinks she’s made progress in handling her situation in Testament. In the subsequent scene with Will, the guy I want her to like, I think, Oh no, Ashlynne, don’t go there, as Everson sets up Ashlynne for a fall. Ashlynne over confidently refuses to listen to Will’s warning against her decision.
Again, a problem is used to keep the tension going, romantic and otherwise. I must turn the page to find out what happens.
If you want to avoid a sagging middle, design a meaningful revelation, secret, new problem, tension, or obstacle to make the reader need to know the next turn in the character’s journey.
5 examples of what’s needed to avoid a sagging middle in your novel.Click to tweet.
What happens after the middle scene of the book you’re reading, or writing?