The alternative is letting the reader wonder when something interesting is going to happen. *shudder*
I have a few tricks for keeping the middle interesting.
1. If it isn't interesting, skip it.
For real. Just chop it out. If you're bored by it, the reader will be to. Cut it. No one wants to read boring.
2. Blow up something.
It doesn't have to be a literal explosion (though it can be!), but external conflicts are filled with potential. Who did the exploding? Why? Was their goal accomplished? How does it affect the protagonist? What will the protagonist do about it? Basically, complicate things. No, REALLY complicate things.
3. Have someone change sides.
What if a bad guy becomes a good guy? (Can the good guys trust him/her?) What if a good guy becomes a bad guy? (Did s/he really change sides, or are they secretly a double agent?) Or-- It doesn't even have to be as literal as that. Take a character's (and therefore reader's) assumption and turn it over. NOW what happens?
4. Tell the reader a secret.
I think too often we try to keep the really good reveals for the end. And while, yes, some must be held for the last moment, think about what you're holding back. How would it change things if the character knew . . . earlier? What would they do? How would they react?
What about you? Any favorite tricks for dealing with the middle of the story?
Jodi Meadows is the author of INCARNATE, book one of the Newsoul Trilogy. (January 31, 2012 - HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books.)
She lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. You can find her on her website and blog.
*A Kippy is a cat.