Writing the Sagging Middle of a Novel

sagging middle with book shelf sag

In my previous novels (three sitting in the drawer, finished but unpublished), I didn’t worry about sagging middles. Aware of that syndrome from hearing other writers talk about it, I amped up the drama in the middle. No problem.

In Norman in the Painting, my present WIP, I stopped writing the novel at the point where the middle begins, unbeknownst to me. I thought three weeks off would be a break I could afford. The Tri-Valley Branch of the California Writers Club had a Winterfest in which arts and crafts were submitted and members could write Ekphrasis prose or poetry for each other’s submissions. I started in October, enjoyed the activity, and completed 23, which took me until December. I convinced myself I had been writing those three months and the experience was worth it so no need to feel guilty about letting my protagonist sit for so long. In January, I’d pick up my WIP where I left off.

Not so easy. I got stuck in the middle, not even the middle of the middle, but the beginning of the middle. In October I had thought I was halfway finished with the book, but when I tallied the words, the 30,000 word count showed a little over a third of the way, not half. The first plot point had occurred a ways back, now what?

I’m not a plotter, but I had plot points in mind. However, the story wasn’t ready for one yet. I had to cover some important steps to get there and I realized those baby steps would be a rehash of what happened before with different endings. Boring to the reader and to me. I imagined several scenarios to begin the chapter, yet none worked. How do I get from C to D?

To be continued in my next post.


Filed under Writing Tips

2 responses to “Writing the Sagging Middle of a Novel

  1. Reblogged this on MorgEn Bailey's Writing Blog and commented:
    Last night, in my novel writing class, we covered pacing and avoiding a saggy middle (in my case, not sitting at my desk eating rubbish would help!). Here are some tips on this topic from a fellow WordPressian, Julaina Kleist-Corwin…


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