Monday, April 29, 2013
New Exercises for a Sagging Middle
Every time I sit down to start a new book, the same thing happens. I start off with an intense and burning desire to tell my new story. Then, at about page 40 or 50, I promptly crash and burn. When I look back, I see that in the first chapters I've established my protagonist, antagonist, setting and plot. All of my basic elements are there, but now I have to DO SOMETHING with all of it. This is what is termed the sagging middle. Ironically, this has happened to me with every book I've written. And while past experience should teach me that with a little faith and patience, this too shall pass, I still always panic...or find interesting ways to procrastinate. This time around, as I work on my new middle grade, I've chosen to tackle my sagging middle by joining a gym and taking Pilates. Fitting, don't you think? But while one sagging middle is being attended to, it's my unsightly plot that is suffering.
Recently, my Triangle-Twin, Kimberly Ann Miller, came to speak to my creative writing class. She gushed over Karen Wiesner's book, First Draft in 30 Days. I must admit that my first inclination is to poo-poo a DIY model for novel writing. I am after all an arteeest :) and I shouldn't have to resort to such measures, right? Also, I tend to resist outlining a book before I begin. I know this works for many writers, Kim being one of them, but it hasn't worked for me. The one time I did go this route, I was very proud of my outline but had no desire to write the book. Why should I write it? I already knew what was going to happen!
But I've decided to give Karen Weisner's book a whirl. It's full of exercises that I'm hoping will stimulate my imagination. I'll let you know how it goes.
How about you? How do you deal with sagging middles? Or are you one of those people who were just born with a six-pack plot :)