Suppose you’re writing a book that has a strong beginning that you know will keep the readers wanting to read more. The tension is exciting and the conflict is believable. Then you get somewhere around the middle of the book and find that you have to force yourself just to keep going. You’ve lost interest and you wonder what happened
Is it you, or did this book take a nosedive? It’s most likely not you. A lot of authors have a difficult time keeping the book interesting all the way through to the fantastic ending they have planned for their readers. We call that “sagging middle syndrome” (SMS).
How do you know if this is a sagging middle? After all, you’re not quite to the middle of the book yet. Or maybe you’re three-fourths of the way through. The exact timing isn’t important; it’s the fact that you’ve lost interest in the book or have hit a roadblock that counts. If you have to force yourself to keep working on a book, the reader will feel the same way when reading it.
There are a number of things that can cause SMS. Perhaps you didn’t outline well enough in the beginning of your project. You had a strong beginning and a fantastic ending, so you assumed you’d be able to “fill in the middle” with something the readers will love.
Or perhaps what you had in mind didn’t work like you thought it would.
Maybe you’re suffering from writer’s block and nothing you planned worked, so you tried another avenue in which to take your book.
Now you’re thinking to yourself, “Yikes! How am I to know if I have a sagging middle?”
The answer is easy; you’ll know because the book has suddenly caused you to slip into a coma. Or you’d rather be in a coma than continue writing your book. Trust your instincts. If you aren’t enjoying the story and have to keep reminding yourself that you’re writing the book because all of a sudden you find yourself wishing you were skiing or cleaning the toilets, the middle is definitely sagging.
What can you do to help a sagging middle? Find out in Part 3 next week.