Many books I’ve read start off with great beginnings and even end with surprises. However, their middles left me wondering why I should keep reading. Truth is, the beginning had set up a situation I wanted to see to completion, so I read to the end, but getting through the middle was nearly an arduous task.
You’ve heard the term sagging middles, right? Many books begin and end in a spectacular manner but the middles offer little. In order to keep your story from developing a sagging middle, you must keep the action going.
In a crime investigation, have some clues show up, only to be disproved. Or have the perpetrator almost caught but gets away.
In science fiction, when the hero flies to a distant planet to rescue his love, have him meet with landing bays locked down tight with no other access to the dying star which will eventually explode. He further meets resistance from ships guarding the planet who want to see it explode into oblivion, taking all inhabitants with it.
In a romance, have two people falling in love, only to have one person come in contact with the person with whom they were previously involved in a obsessive and addictive affair.
The prescription for sagging middles in all genres is to bolster the action by keeping it going. Anything new can happen in the middle of a story as long as it follows the rest of the action and is written in such a manner as to not look contrived to hold the beginning and ending together. Whatever happens must be natural to what was offered in the beginning. Whatever is offered in the middle must also be instrumental in bring about the plot’s stunning conclusion.
What action is included should serve to keep the conflict and great tension building throughout. By building in intensity, you not only hold interest through your story middle but set up a more dramatic ending.
Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers’ references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.
She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California’s Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.
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Author, Painter, PhotographerEric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards FinalistGlobal eBook Awards BronzeGlobal eBook Awards SilverBlog: http://www.marydeal.comArt Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
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Good advice Mary. I agree, the beginning and end goes along without a hitch. The middle, however, is a challenge and that is where I spend most of my time writing a story.ReplyDelete