“We can’t settle here,” I said, watching the sun set over the distant city. “We need to get as far away as possible.”
“We’re fine,” Miguel snapped, dropping his satchel. “No one’s looking for us.”
“Serenity is,” I said sharply. “Or she will be once she realizes I’ve escaped. We need to distance ourselves.”
Miguel sighed, idly playing with his knife as he looked me up and down.
My wrists were chained together, my feet bare and aching, but I didn’t care. All of my attention was directed toward staying ahead of Serenity.
“Why would she bother chasing you?” Miguel asked, eyeing me. “For your dragon? It couldn’t be just that, no. Or you wouldn’t be willing to part with your dragon just to get away from her…”
“She wants my life,” I whispered. “It’s as simple as that.”
“And I don’t?” Miguel asked, smirking.
I met his gaze. “No. You want my dragon. And to get her, you’re gonna have to listen to me. We need to move.”
Miguel’s smile thinned, considering my words. Eventually, he placed the tip of his knife against his palm and pressed just hard enough to draw a line of blood. “Draw blood with me.”
I frowned, considering the implications. If I wasn’t careful, I could lose everything.
With a deep breath, I offered my palm, still constrained by my chains.
Miguel bared his teeth as he sliced my hand open, digging deeper than he had to. And with blood on both our hands, he took mine in his, pressing the wounds together.
“By blood, I will not bring you harm,” Miguel whispered.
I considered my words carefully. “By blood, I will relinquish my dragon to you.”
“And before or after, will not bring me harm,” Miguel added.
I nodded. “And before or after, will not intentionally bring you harm. So blood bind us.”
“So blood bind us,” Miguel echoed, releasing my hand.
My heart raced inside my chest as Miguel pulled the key out of his pocket. It was done.
The wound on my hand healed even as Miguel released my chains, throwing them on the ground. “Alright,” he said, “so where’s your dragon?”
I rubbed my wrists, sighing in relief. “Far from here, but we’re going in the right direction.”
Miguel rolled his eyes. “Just summon her and get this over with.”
“If I could summon her, I wouldn’t have needed you in the first place,” I said, brushing past Miguel on my way down the other side of the hill. “She’s in hibernation.”
Miguel picked up his satchel, following me down the row of crops. “For how long?”
I shrugged. “Has been for years. Not sure how much longer.”
Miguel grabbed my shoulder, spinning me around, his knife in hand. “You’re going to give me a sleeping dragon?”
“I can wake her,” I said, trying to calm him down. “We just need to get to her first. Don’t worry.”
Miguel held my gaze for a moment before putting his knife away. “Alright,” he said begrudgingly. “Lead the way.”
“Where did she go?” Serenity asked, petting her new dragon.
Frank shook his head as he wiped the blade of his knife on the dead Queen’s dress. “I didn’t see. We’d already won the fight by the time I realized she was gone.”
Serenity surveyed the bloody field, looking out over the corpses of the royal guards and their Claimed. As she did, she made eye contact with a plain guard poking his head outside the palace doorway. His eyes went wide as he disappeared back inside the palace. She ignored him.
“She must have feared getting caught up in the fight,” Serenity muttered, her face contorted in thought.
“Maybe,” Frank conceded, sounding uncertain.
Serenity shot him a look. “You think she ran from us?”
Frank frowned. “I don’t think she likes all of this killing.”
“It’s justice,” Serenity said defensively. “It’s necessary.”
“I know,” Frank said, nodding. “But she may not agree. Either way, she can’t have gotten far.”
Serenity sighed, watching another guard look through the gate surrounding the courtyard. One look at her six dragons and he disappeared to the other side.
“Stay here and clean out the palace,” Serenity ordered. “I’m going to search the city.”
Frank nodded obediently. “For Allie or Draco?”
Serenity climbed on top of her new dragon, stroking the knob behind his ear. “Both,” she said as they launched into the sky.
Frank sighed. “Okey-doke,” he said, gesturing to the five remaining dragons. “Let’s get to work.”
The most difficult part of a story to write is the middle. You could make an argument that the ending is the hardest, but you would be wrong. Most writers have an idea of how they want to end their story. Sometimes the ending the only thing they know when they begin the writing process. And, granted, the ending is probably the most important part of the story, but not the hardest to write.
Why is the middle so difficult to write well? Because it’s not formulaic. I can tell you step by step how to start a story and then tell you exactly how to end that same story, but how to get from A to B? That’s where you get to be creative.
The middle is where you get to set your story apart from all of the others.
That being said, there are guidelines, of sorts, that can help you tell a satisfying story. Many of these guidelines vary based on the type of story you’re telling, so if you’re interested in writing a certain type of story, just look up plot lines for that genre and go wild.
What I’m going to do here instead is go through a character-based plot structure, because every story should be ultimately driven by character. (As previously discussed)
First 10% of the story
- Setup World/Situation/Character
- Show your Main Character and what they’re struggling with – what lie do they believe about themselves?
- Ex: Both Draco and Allie are slaves and have bleak Worldviews
Next 15% of the story
- Set up new situation/break them out of old cycle
- Give your Main Character a glimpse of who they could be if they overcame their struggle – stopped believing their lie
- Ex: Allie is freed by Serenity and Draco is freed by Miguel
Next 25% of the story (leading to mid-point)
- Have your character make progress toward their goals
- Go back and forth between successes and failures – this is where we really hit the middle of the story and need to be creative
- Come up with situations that the character has to face in order to confront their lies and struggles
- Have them grow through the events until… Mid-point – Have a major setback
- Ex: both main characters are in the middle of this stage, trying to pursue their individual goals
- Continue the process of failing and succeeding
- Increase the stakes of the story and build tension
- Have them get really close to their goals
- Until… Have another major setback even bigger than before
- The character hits their lowest point (often called the pit of despair) and is forced to either give up or give one last final try
- They succeed, overcome the struggle, revise their beliefs, and win the day
- Show results of winning the day
- Show how the character has become new
- Happily ever after
This is purely a guideline, but it’s a formula that works and can be found in every good story in existence, whether the writers did it on purpose or not. You might as well do it on purpose.