Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ways to Fix a Sagging Plot

Photo Creative Commons

We’re talking about the middle of your story when things can lose momentum.  Most of us find the beginning and climax easier to write than the middle, which is subject to becoming the sagging part of your story, perhaps leaving readers as bored as you are with writing it.  The good news is there is a cure.

 If you’re like me, you write by the ‘seat of your pants’ letting things come to you as the story unfolds.  I usually never make an outline until right before I get near the end of my WIP.  This is probably not a good practice as I’ve discovered recently with my first mystery novel.  With mystery there is too much to keep track of.

 I had to go back and make an outline of events so that I account for everything in the end.  I never have to do this with fantasy, which is usually what I write.  Now I’m wondering if it needs more action as well, so I started researching some issues to think about.  Naturally, I want this to be an entertaining read and not boring.  Who doesn’t?

 I found that one of the ways to avoid a sagging middle is to have your protagonist change his original plan and move in a different direction even if it’s against his will, but he has to meet the added challenge in addition to what he set out to do in the beginning.  This is one way to add another dimension to the story and keep the reader reading and away to take care of the sagging middle issue.

 There has to be an increase in tension as the story moves along toward the end.  Unexpected obstacles or making things more complicated will keep the middle from sagging.  It is important to leave the reader with a greater concern as to what will happen next as the story moves along.  Of course, this all makes sense, but sometimes is harder to achieve than it sounds.

 In my research, I came across the idea that cause and effect is something to keep in mind.  When you think about how it all has to link together in the end, this cause and effect makes sense.  We can accomplish this by keeping each event linked to the one before it and to the one after it.

 It’s best to bear in mind the basic elements of a story:

Inciting incident

A complication

A crisis

A resolution

 One of my writer’s reference books tells me to keep the eight basic elements of plot in mind and to ask some questions of my characters.

What does the protagonist hope to achieve?

What will happen if the protagonist fails?

What must happen for the protagonist to win?

During the course of the story, if we want an exciting end, it’s good to show that the consequences are getting closer for the protagonist as the story moves along.

It is important not to let the characters or readers lose sight of the  goal or consequences.  As I to some rewrites on my story, I'm trying o keep all this in mind hoping to come out with an exciting finished product.


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