Writer’s Wednesday

Behind the scenes…
Sagging Middles
This is part 3 of my sagging middle series. This week let’s look at some of the reason’s your middle might be sagging. Lack of suspense/doom/hardship is one reason, the secret is a good way to combat that sag. Lack of action is another major middle flab but the ‘what if’ can tighten that up like a 1000 crunches. But if your middle is caving because… well… because your characters are suddenly – BORING. You know they kick butt in the beginning and you have a rock the readers socks ending but right now they are lacking their bikini ready body because of sagging middles.

Here is a character builder that could tighten up the middle. Keep in mind this exercise is NOT meant to be part of your WIP. It’s a middle tightening exercise design to get those characters in shape for that rock star ending you have planned.

Your character does ‘stuff’ off the pages or before the pages begin. This exercise looks at those. Now even if you are one of those plotters who do ten page character sheets, chances are this exercise can help you discover something.

It’s an interview…not with the character but with two people the character interacts with off the page. For example, if it’s a small town setting interview the grocery store clerk. I was a waitress and a cashier believe me when I say I spent A LOT of time people profiling.

What would the cashier have to say about her moods? Is she happy? Does she say hi or ignore the cashier? Is she a weekly shopper, daily shopper, or monthly shopper? Does she buy a candy bar every time? Does she read gossip magazines while standing in line but puts them back when it’s time to check out?

Now if you’re writing a suspense maybe the stalker uses one of these character ticks to spook your heroine. For example, say your heroine buys a 3 Musketeer every shopping trip. It’s the only time she eats the bar, it’s her reward for enduring the shopping trip. The stalker leaves a 3 Musketeer bar in her car. Or a copy of the magazine she read in the line. Now if the stalker isn’t after your heroine because she’s the one protecting the victim these could be used as a ‘scare’ tactic. ‘Leave my intended victim alone or I’ll hurt you because I know what you do.’

If you don’t write a suspense, the interview can be used to amp the romance. The cashier knows the hero, she tells him that the heroine has a thing for 3 Musketeers and gossip magazines. The hero then makes a ‘I know you’ basket and includes these things. Aww, what a guy. 🙂

The idea here is by looking at your character through a different set of eyes, you’ll learn things about her/him you didn’t know before. Things that will add depth to your deflating character and boost your sagging middle.
Next week I’ll talk about interviewing someone from the character’s life before the pages started.
I’d love to hear if you have used these types of interviews.

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