The Myth of the Terrible Midquel

Any writers out there will probably have heard the great myth that the hardest book to write in a trilogy is the middle book – the midquel. It’s one of those things I never really bought, because it just sounded like an urban legend and everybody had a completely different reason for why this was the case.

Well, a thread on a writing forum I followed was actually about how to write a good midquel. When “The Lord of the Rings” was inevitably brought up, I came in and said, “No, bad example – LotR is one novel that the publisher decided to ship out in thirds. It is not a trilogy.”

When people looked it up and realized, surprise, I was right, some guy responded with this: “Yeah but “The Two Towers” was awesome anyway, so we should still use it as a good example of a midquel”.

I responded by saying, “You’re right! In Tolkien’s work is the secret: To write a good midquel, write a really, really good book. If you don’t write a good book, your midquel will be bad, but if you do write a good book, it will be awesome. So, to write a great midquel, write a great book.”

This is a good example of why you should always be very careful with paint by numbers writing advice.

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