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How to Avoid a Sagging Story Middle

Sagging Middle Rx for Your Novel

Write a Novel to the End: Sagging Middle Rx for Your Novel

The hardest part of any writing project is its midpoint. That’s where the momentum that propelled you through the first scenes slows but  the final scenes have yet to beckon you onward. Becoming lost in the middle of your book is usually a problem with the story structure.

The second act makes up about 50% of a novel’s girth, plenty of room for a misstep to impact its health.

Lack of Focus

You wrote an awesome beginning that pitched your main character into conflict, introduced the setting, created the mood, defined your story type, and established your story problem and theme while simultaneously hooking your reader. Pretty nifty.

But now what?

If you are pantsing, you may have no idea how to answer that question. You have a general idea where the plot will end up but there’s a vast, hazy landscape in between. And plotting your novel only helps if you understand plot structure.

The solution is to bone up on plotting a novel with a central theme and story problem.

No Character Arc

You know that a story needs conflict and that your main character is supposed to grow through the action but you’re not sure how to make this happen. You aren’t exactly sure what his or her driving desire or abiding fear might be.

This can be a symptom of not spending enough time getting to know your characters before you write about them. Never underestimate the ability of your subconscious to work out details you would not otherwise have thought about.

Work on defining your characters and see if some interesting scenes don’t suggest themselves to you.

Missing Midpoint Scene

This is the point where all of the plot threads and conflicts have been established. Story events now push your main character’s back to the wall and force a decision to either  give in and accept defeat or engage in the change brought about by the story’s inciting incident. The only way out is through, and the midpoint scene is where your protagonist’s change of heart  makes victory possible later in the book.

Don't miss out on writing a blockbuster midpoint scene.

Absent Conflict

No conflict = no story. It’s as simple as that. Most writers are nice people,  but we must resist the urge to have everyone get along. Keep relationships crisp and your readers will turn pages to see what happens next.

Likewise, avoid reassuring the reader that everything is going to be all right. End scenes at a point of tension, and do make sure that the stakes are high. Now is a good time to raise them, in fact.

Repeat after me.  Worried readers are happy readers.

Some Final Thoughts

Give your imagination free reign and brainstorm what could happen in your story. Don’t edit your ideas as they come. Write them down. Now go through and pick the ones that best fit your theme. You’ll regain your enthusiasm for your story while avoiding a sagging middle.

Sagging Middle RX via Janalyn Voigt | Live Write Breathe

Written by Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt

© Janalyn Voigt
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I’m Janalyn Voigt, an author, speaker, and former social media mentor. DawnSinger and Wayfarer, the first two books in my epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, released with Pelican Book Group and will be followed by at least two more installments. I’m also working on a romantic suspense novel set in an Irish castle, but then historical fiction has a grip on me too. Being unabashedly multi-genre makes me into what some might term a reluctant rebel, but I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller.

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