Tag Archives: writer’s block

Solve Writer’s Block and the Sagging Middle of a Novel

sagging middle of a leaning pole with the words

My previous post told how I was stuck in the sagging middle of my novel. I didn’t know how to get back into the rhythm after three months of writing Ekphrasis prose and poetry due the end of December. I’d imagined several ways to begin Chapter 15 and didn’t like any of the options. For the first time, after writing three novels, I had writer’s block.

Ann Winfred came to the rescue. She and I are on-line accountability partners. We have an agreement to write and submit to each other a minimum of five hundred words on our WIPs each week. Her work in progress is http://comingofagecroneicles.com When I told her I was struggling, she asked me if I planned to continue with the novel or not and other questions that made me evaluate my goal. In the process, I discovered what I was doing wrong. I had been imagining how to start the chapter. My style is to sit down and write, not to think about what to write. I also had lost contact with my characters. Like an actor, I had to become the protagonist again. The best way to do that was to write.

I sat at my computer and wrote eight hundred seventeen words. Satisfied with the beginning of the chapter, I set it aside. I had an idea of how to eliminate a repetitious boring middle–I’d speed up the action and combine the baby steps to get to the next plot point sooner. I arranged a free day to finish the chapter. As I typed, the protagonist took a different turn, which happens in writing and I was happy with it. Then I discovered that for almost a whole page, I had switched to first person instead of third. Freaky at first, but then I realized I was back to writing in my usual manner, which is to go with the flow of my consciousness and not to think too hard. I changed the I’s to she’s, finished the chapter in record time, and I’m pleased with the new middle. It’s not blocked or sagging any more.

The way to solve writer’s block is to sit down and write. Set a small goal, maybe 300 or 500 words of a draft that maybe used later or might be thrown away, but at least there are words on a page. The next writing time, the result could be longer and better. Trust the muse, the protagonist, your intuition and find an accountability partner.

The way to solve the sagging middle is to sit down and write, bring in more action and tension, amp it up, go to an extreme; you can change it later if needed. Bring in a new challenge, a natural disaster like a hurricane, or make a thief take a treasured item adding to the protagonist’s anguish.

Most important: remember your writing goal and know you CAN do it.

10 Comments

Filed under Writing Tips

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Writing Tips

Quote for Writers about Writers Block

“Writers block: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.”

I love this quote. The writer is unknown.

4 Comments

Filed under Quotes for Writers

Motivation Quote

People often say that motivation doesn’t last.
Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we
recommend it daily.

~ Zig Ziglar

1 Comment

Filed under Quotes for Writers