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In my previous novels (three sitting in the drawer, finished but unpublished), I didn’t worry about sagging middles.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.

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timetowritenow

For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

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