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I am a writer on a journey to get published the old-fashioned way–with the help of an agent. Of course, that means I have to get an agent! My blog, Work in Progress, documents my journey through that process as well as my journey through life (with teenagers, dogs, cats, horses, and an abundance of swamp critters.) Check out my About page to find out more about me or my Books page to find out more about the projects I’m working on. 

 

Work in Progress

No Sagging Middles

Posted Aug 16 2017 in , , , ,

A funny thing happened on the way to…the middle of my book.

I had a scene I’d labeled “The Middle.” I loved this scene in the middle. It was perfect…in the middle. But a couple of weeks ago, the strangest thing happened. I was writing along and BAM, the scene presented itself way earlier than I expected. And since then, my “write a scene a day” scenario has been shot to hell. I’ve spent a lot of time with my Scrivener program open, staring at my list of scenes and pulling at my hair, rocking and repeating like Ray in Rainman, “What’s my middle?”

Non-writers will say, “Why don’t you just move it back?” But it doesn’t work that way. If I’m to give up control (not the easiest thing for me) and trust my main character to guide me, then I have to accept sometimes (yikes!) I’m wrong. And I was wrong to think that scene was my middle. It’s much better off where it is now. It slingshots my main character into the second act of the book. But now what?

According to Blake Synder’s book Save The Cat!, the midpoint is where the stakes are raised. “…it’s like nailing a spike into a wall good and hard. The clothesline that is your story can now be strung securely.”

In the Wizard of Oz the middle is when the witch has Dorothy and she’s turned over the hourglass. The sand is literally running out. And just when you think Dorothy is out of time, she grabs the bucket of water, throws it on the witch, and voila…she off to see the wizard again.

 

Side bar: Don’t ask me what the middle of Dunkirk is. I have no earthly idea. And I just watched it. I actually have no clue what the main story is. Land, Air, Sea? Pick one! That movie consisted of a bunch of beautifully shot, beautifully scored scenes that added up to nothing. What happened? Who was the hero? Where the hell was the editor? Well, now I’ve gone off on a tangent. Anyway…

 

Without a strong middle, the story will cave in on itself.

There’s a phrase writers (and this forty-something woman) dread: The Sagging Middle.

Oh how I want to avoid the sagging middle! On the site How To Write A Book Now, the sagging middle is defined as what occurs when the prose that fills the large space between your novel’s opening and its climax fails to hold your reader’s interest. In other words – it’s boring! And life’s too short for boring books! In our ADD nation, believe me, bored readers move on quickly. 

So it’s time for me to pull on my story-Spanx, cinch up that belt, and write a middle scene I can bounce a quarter off of. I guess that means I have to hide the Junior Mints now.

And the writing journey continues…

 

 

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