Writer’s Wednesday

Putting your story on a diet.
Sagging Middles
For the last three weeks, I’ve shared a few ideas on how to boost a sagging middle but what if your middle is sagging because well because of too many doughnuts….
Too much of anything is unhealthy, the same for your story. A few doughnuts are good and given the right amount of exercise you will still be able to fit into your jeans.
If your story is sagging, it may be time to cut the ‘fat.’ This thought makes every writer cringe. The characters are amazing, the events are awesome, so there is no way they are making the middle sag.
But…they could be. This goes against my second tip of adding a ‘what if’ scene and is proof there is no one secret to prevent a sagging middle.
To see if your story has over indulged in doughnuts, ask yourself the following questions….
(1) What is the one – yes only one – thing that has to happen to get to the rock your socks ending?
(2) Who are the fewest characters needed to make that one thing happen?
After you have answered these two ‘simple’ questions, take a look at what else you have going on. Does it add to the character arch or development? Does it provide a needed barrier to keep the characters from easily achieving their goal? Are the extra characters needed or mere crutches aka extra doughnuts?
Sometimes you will have scene you love…it’s awesome. The characters shine, the detail is spot on, and the pace is tight but it just doesn’t move the story. As hard as it is you need to cut it. Just because you cut doesn’t mean you can’t use it… maybe it would make a good promo for a blog tour – like the out takes at the end of a movie.
Other times you have scenes because you don’t want the reader to forget a secondary character. If the reader is going to forget the character without a doughnut scene then the character needs to be reworked and the scene cut.
Then there are times that too many things are going on. A subplot has become a wild child and is demanding way too much page space. Keep subplots on a doughnut free diet, they are to move the main plot along not compete with it.


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