Monday, March 28, 2011

What's on the Page?

Saggy Middles

I’ve hit the halfway point on my WIP and while I don’t usually have a problem with saggy middles--that malady where a writer finds the story has slowed and grown boring before the exciting black moment and resolution--I’ve found myself in a quandary.

My hero and heroine just had their first “interlude”(nice for love scene). And now I have eight days before another significant historically accurate event, but I don't want to 1) fill it with fluff or 2) have the hero and heroine do anything that really moves the story froward.

the forward motion of this story is based on the historical elements and the hero and heroine's growth both romantically and in themselves. To keep the story moving forward there are the moments like this when I have to skip over a segment of time and yet not write it in such away that the reader feels like they’re being told what happened rather than living it with the characters.

I could just say, “Eight days later, Sa-qan…” But that also leaves the reader wondering what has gone on between the hero and heroine in those eight days. So I need to let them know they have barely seen each other. So maybe, “The past eight days Sa-qan and Wade captured brief moments before duty separated them once more. And now Sa-qan…” Borrinnggg!

Or go deeper POV, “Sa-qan pulled her recollections from her last brief encounter with Wade to the two warriors below approaching the Whiteman’s settlement. The past eight days she and Wade had put duty before their own yearnings, knowing it was best for her people. The encounter between Joseph and the soldier he approached require her undivided attention.”

By keeping it deep POV it makes the transition feel less like author intrusion, shows the delay in time, and keeps the story from become boring or saggy.

As a writer do you suffer from saggy middles? How do you try to avoid them?

Readers can you think of book you read that the middle slowed and almost put you to sleep?


Kelly McCrady said...

I had this same problem in the book I had recently released. I realized somewhere in the middle that the first half of the book took four days and now I needed to skip ahead by a month! Wow, what a timeline oopsie. I ended up inserting greater time gaps in the beginning which helped balance the middle more when I needed to move ahead in time. Phew! And I like your solution ;-)

Colleen said...

I'm facing a sagging middle right now. Then I remembered something I read on Sandra Brown's website. I'm paraphrasing: when you hit a sagging middle, throw a major problem at the H/H.

So I inroduced a totally new character who will take the story to where I wanted it to be, but along a completely different path then I planned. I hope it works.

Colleen Greene

Paty Jager said...

Good info, Kelly! Thanks!

Paty Jager said...

Colleen, That's a good tactic. Taking the characters in another direction adds excitement and gives the story more room to grow.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect time to up the ante to me. Separate them! Cause more trouble! I know from reading your work you write great and powerful endings. It would heighten the tension to pull them apart. No sagging middle in that case!

Anonymous said...

I agree with what others have said. Middles often get bogged down in what is called "driving to the story" or "walking to the story." Skipping ahead is the way to go, but one way to get there is definitely to introduce conflict--either external (girl taken by tornado to Oz and takes a whole movie to get home )or internal (man must stay away or he will reveal the secret of the world that he has vowed to tell no one). Either way, the month apart can then be described with each one angsting about their impossible choices.

Good Luck with resolving this.