The Middle –
Man and woman meet. They like each other – a lot. They decide to give it a whirl. SOMETHING happens. They deal with the SOMETHING. SOMETHING almost rips them apart. The SOMETHING is resolve. They happily ever after.
That’s the ‘basic’ formal to every good romance from a pantser point of view. And I know many plotters who follow the same formal only with pages and pages AND pages of details. One thing that pantsers and plotters have to deal with is the ‘SOMETHING’ or sagging middle.
It doesn’t matter if you have to come up with the ‘SOMETHING’ at the plotting stage or when you are staring at the words Chapter Five. It has to be done.
So how do you write a ‘SOMETHING’ that does sag? That hasn’t been used 2 million times? You want a ‘SOMETHING’ that will keep your reader engaged. A ‘SOMETHING’ that is worthy of the awesome characters you’ve created.
One thing that will determine the answer to these questions and shape your ‘SOMETHING’ is the genre and length of your book.
For example, I write suspense romance. So my ‘SOMETHING’ is going to deal with murder. But still I don’t want my ‘SOMETHING’ to be a serial killer who had a bad mom…. I want a bigger ‘SOMETHING’ – a better ‘SOMETHING’ – a ‘SOMETHING’ that make my reader go “oh shit, I so didn’t see that coming.”
I have 7 techniques I use to try to amp my ‘SOMETHING’ up to make rock my reader and make my characters shout ‘you’re the boss.’
The first one is – Keep Secrets.
While this one is used heavily, the key to make it work is have the secret be totally unexpected.
Today let’s look at the secret child. Your hero and heroine have a history and there is a child about the same age of when the heroine left. Your heroine tries to keep the child a secret. Why? She doesn’t know how to tell the hero that it’s his…I’ve read some great books using that standard idea.
The child is his sisters. The heroine and the hero’s sister were best friends. The sister was raped by her boyfriend – a real creep but one that has money and power. The sister begs her best friend to take the child after it’s born and leave. This opens a bag of gummy worms…
The child is the hero’s only it’s by another woman. The heroine leaves to seek a career. Only a year later her best friend shows up with a baby in tow. She hooked up the hero after the heroine left but his heart has been and always will be with the heroine. Now the mother is sick – dying sick – so she ask the heroine to take the baby. This is a jumbo bag of gummy worms….
I’d love to hear of any of the secret child ones that you’ve read love or wrote.