Sagging middle- The lame part of your book between the beginning and the end.
Ok some of you might want a better definition but that one is pretty accurate. Have you ever read a book and thought, “Just get on with it already!” ? Well, you’re probably smack dab in the middle of the book, the part where not much is happening. Writers use this part to develop characters and explore plot points, work on their witty dialogue etc, etc. But sometimes the middle of a book can be downright boring if it’s not executed correctly. Now if you’re thinking you’re going to get advice from me on how to fix the sagging middle of your book. It ain’t gonna happen.
The only thing I can say about it is this… If your work bores you when you go back and read it, it might be time to rethink it. Throw a monkey wrench in there. Kill off a main character. Do something big. I don’t know, do whatever you need to to feel good about your work.
Believe it or not I hadn’t heard the term Sagging Middle until I joined my local writers group and I had been writing for a good four years at that point. Sagging middle, I thought. Eww, get some spanx. But when I listened I realized that a saggy middle was something a lot of writers face. For me it’s the point in my book where I hate everything and every character I’ve written. It’s the part where I want to give up and move on to something else. Any of you out there have lots of uncompleted novels? I bet it’s because you got caught up in the sag.
But you can’t give up! This is the part where a trusted critique partner comes in handy. You might be a little biased or a little hard on yourself when it comes to your work. Fresh eyes can be helpful. Or if you are somebody who doesn’t like their work checked in progress, then take a little break, suck it up the best way you know how and muddle through to end. Easier said then done, right? But writing is hard. If it wasn’t then everybody would do it.
The way I avoid a sagging middle is to edit as I go along. I tried it the other way but for me editing 80 to 100,000 words at once is too daunting. I can’t rewrite scenes or add scenes or create characters or subplots after I’ve already gotten to the end. It’s just not how I work. Because when I type the end I’m ready to move on to the next project. I also have to write scenes in order no matter how great the one that just popped in my head might be. I don’t know how some people can jump around. (Madness!)
I also wonder if our writing process is directly related to our personality traits. Are plotters generally control freaks? Are pantsters more fun at parties? I don’t know. If somebody wants to tackle that subject I would be interested in knowing.
So to sum this post up, Don’t let the sag get you down!
I would also like to know how you work. What’s your process? Ever get caught with a sagging middle? How did you fix it? Got any tips to share? Any and all comments are welcome.