I Don’t Want a Saggy Middle!

July 25, 2010

While on holiday, I finally managed to nail down my troublesome “Mr. Elliot Scene”, thereby launching myself out of the ‘beginning’ of my novel (all conflicts introduced and accounted for!) and into the ‘middle’ of my story (where the conflicts progress!).

**Moment of congratulatory silence to honor the passing of this great milestone**

Yahoo! I have never made it to the middle before! I used to just re-write the beginning over and over. Whew! That only took about 10 years to accomplish!

So here I am, hands on my hips, looking forward towards the next horizon, wondering…NOW WHAT?

Technically, I know what comes next in the story. I just set up Conflicts A, B, C & D. Now there are logical ‘next steps’ I need to take to get to W, X, Y and Z. Mind you, I don’t know all of the steps in between (I am not one of those keen outliner types, who nail down every plot detail beforehand…I like the pain…er, I mean fun…of on-going discovery…)

But I do know that for my conflict/plot to immediately progress, my main character has to do a few tedious chores. She has to write a few important letters, for example. She has to attend Mr. Elliot’s lecture. She has to have a specific talk with her aunt.


I am not satisfied with these next steps! Something else needs to happen right now: something really exciting. It’s like I want a car chase (carriage chase?) or for something to blow up (the wine cellar?). I want Mr. Elliot to kiss her (but its too soon for that?) or for Lord Byron to suddenly show up in the drawing room and go on a drunken rampage, smashing all the Wedgewood china…

I started my novel in one genre (the Jane Austen-type rom-com-mystery) but I feel this urge now to stand the whole thing on its head somehow. I’m not sure what I’m meaning by this (zombies, anyone? Ha, ha!) but I’m getting impatient with my usual Regency shtick: dinner party, dressmakers, musical concerts, picnics at the country estate, carriage rides, marriage mart, etc.

Something needs to break it up a little…I don’t want my middle to sag! (As was recently discussed in #scribechat, this is an affliction which many otherwise decent novels suffer from: its the lull that sometimes happens in a story after you’ve gotten past your initial conflictual introductions.)

Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m stuck. Stalled. (Panicking!) Mulling things over…

-Perhaps I should re-visit my outline, give it more detail
-Perhaps I should channel the darker side of the Regency period, include more elements of the Romantics, the Gothic…(Lord Byron, Mary Shelly, Ann Radcliffe, et. al.)
-Perhaps I should suddenly switch perspectives for awhile
-Perhaps I should switch to a diary/letter/story format for awhile
-Perhaps I should skip this part and go write another part
-Perhaps I should re-read what I’ve written in its entirety, get the ‘big picture’
-Perhaps I should consult the Tarot!

Do you have any suggestions, perchance?


  1. I love the comic strips! 🙂

    I’ve heard some people write in scenes and then patch them together later. That would never work for me. I have to start at the beginning and push on toward the scenes I really want to write. Otherwise, I would only write the juicy ones and then stop. Ha!

    When I got to a section of my book I wasn’t really excited about writing, I made a little list of what needed to happen next to get me to the juicy scene (i.e. Mr. Elliot’s kiss). Then I could cross them off as I got them down and knew that each scene written brought me that much closer to the fulfillment I was waiting for. Much like reading a book, I think!


  2. Hi Cyndi,

    Thx for dropping by! Like you, I prefer to start at the beginning and push on…I can’t skip around too much, I think because I want to write it like I read it…

    I like your idea of a list of what needs to happen next for all my plot/subplot lines. I think I’m going to need to get a bit more organized.

    I think I might also make a wish list of ‘juicy scenes’…things I want to aim towards or have included in my novel at some point.

    Thanks so much for your suggestions!
    Julie Johnson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: