Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Your Sagging Middle

We had another great creative writing meeting on Sunday. I enjoyed it very much. Our group is getting bigger, we now have 10 people. Running this class was something I wasn't  ecstatic about at first, since I had never done any kind of teaching, but the ladies have been very supportive of me and my years of stage fright. I think I'm getting better at it!

We had two main topics this class, POV, and the sagging middle. Not the sagging middle that most of us writers seem to gain sitting in front of the computer typing away at our future novels, while we munch on junk food, drink coffee and like me, smoke cigs. (Although, there are the one's who write drunk!)

No, it's the other sagging middle we writers have, the one two thirds of the way into our manuscripts. The one that makes us pull our hair out, the one that makes us rewrite constantly. You know...that one!

Now, since I have touched on POV several times in my posts, I thought touching on the sagging middle subject would be a new creative writing topic to discuss.

What causes this problem? Well, I was glad that one of the ladies in our group asked. 

Mainly the biggest cause of the weak middle is panster writing, instead of a plotting. Writing by the seat of your pants can leave "holes" in your sub-plots and plots, and when you get to the climax (the end of your story) you will leave the reader unsatisfied. 

In fact, if the middle of your book isn't building up to the climax, often times you will lose the reader. This is where pacing comes in, and sub-plots. You really need to have some idea as to the way the end of your book will be so that you know what events will happen to lead up to this big ending. 

By creating even basic outlines and or graphs of your book, you can see the entire manuscript right in front of you. You will see if you have several chapters that are boring, or too much info dump, or maybe just not enough oomph to get the reader to continue to turn the page.

This is a good time to come up with another problem your protagonist needs to face. As I have said in the past, conflict is your friend. But you do need to make sure that all makes sense to the reader and all rings true, other wise the reader will not "buy" in to it and close it. (you don't want that!) 

Plan your book and your characters out ahead of time, or at least a basic outline of them. Know what's going to happen and what leads up to the climactic ending, and keep tension higher. 

You will be glad you did, and it will help to to get your manuscript to its fruition!

Have any of you ever come across this problem? I would love to hear what you did to solve it!

Until Friday, I hope all of you have a great week and I want to thank the people that gave Elizabeth such a warm reception! I do hope that some of you check out her books!

Love, Lisa


  1. I agree with you completely, Lisa, that it's weak pantser writing that leads to this problem. There are pantsers who can finish a novel without it happening, but if it does happen, outlining - at least the middle - will help.

    Congratulations on continuing to conduct this class! Maybe you should start charging - just a little? Perhaps you already do, but this does take time and effort on your part. Time away from marketing and writing. It's just a thought. :)

  2. Hi Susan, Thanks for looking out for me. ;-) There are two reasons I don't charge, well, actually more than that, but the main reasons are I wanted to pay it forward and two because we will be now switching to the library to have our classes and one of the stipulations is we don't charge. I wished when I was going through this in the past that someone would help me with writing without charging since I had no money at the time. I know how it is and I am trying to help writers put out clean and tight novels for everyone to enjoy and keep the standards up so that buying a book in today's saturated market will continue to reap some profits for writers. Does that make sense?

    There are so many books out there, (mostly self-pub) that need a lot of work in the creative writing process and when someone buys one of these books they get turned off at trusting another author's self-pub books to be up to standards. I want to get the word out that you do need to put the time and energy into your work in order to have pride in your accomplishment and to have sales because you have a high quality product.

    Anyway, maybe someday I will hold classes and charge, I just don't feel I am up to a teaching standard to say I should be paid lol!

  3. I completely understand your reasons and applaud your efforts! I thought of it because I recognize that it doesn't just take time to teach the class, it also takes time in preparing for it. :)

    The other thought in marketing mode is that people sometimes value something more if they have to pay for it - even a small amount. Otherwise they may take it for granted and not really appreciate the value they're receiving. But that's just a marketing mantra I've heard before.

    Maybe you can save up your class outlines and materials and publish it as an e-book someday! :) Just another idea. Ha ha. I'm full of it - I mean, them. :)