Blogger: Rachel Kent
Author Rene Gutteridge’s novel, Misery Loves Company, has a clever Chapter 17. It discusses how manuscripts often sag around Chapter 17 and indirectly warns writers to be cautious when they come to this place when writing a book.
The sagging middle is a common flaw in manuscripts that come across my desk at Books & Such, so Rene’s observation is spot on. I think many authors have a really good idea of how a story is going to start and end when they brainstorm a book, but the middle isn’t as thought out; so when the author gets to about Chapter 17, things fall apart. Connecting the beginning and end begins to look impossible.
How can you prevent a saggy middle in your manuscript? I suggest, when you are approaching what you’d guess is the beginning of the middle of your book, that you stop writing and plot out how you are going to create that middle section to connect beginning and end. Don’t rush forward to try to finish. Take your time, discuss plot ideas with critique partners, and run ideas by test readers to make sure the plan for your middle is detailed and interesting. Consider scheduling enough time in your writing plan so that you can devote more energy to the middle than other sections of your book. That way you can be sure to have time to get that feedback from others. This may seem like a waste at first but ultimately should save agonizing over that slumping middle it comes to rewrites.
Have you ever struggled with writing the middle of your manuscript?