Like every writer in the universe, I struggle with self-doubt and the “soggy middle” of my novels. The only thing you can do is power through it.
Self-doubt is a normal and natural part of the writing process, like puberty except without the acne. Every writer feels that their work is crap at some point, especially the first draft. Acknowledge this and move on, continue writing and don’t give up.
The “soggy” or “saggy” middle is all the action that happens after the inciting incident that leads to the climax of the novel. If you don’t have a strong outline or a clear idea of how to move your plot forward the middle can turn into a jumbled, soggy mess. There are no easy fixes. You can try killing a character, introducing new characters or subplots, adding a plot twist or simply sit in a corner and pray the problem goes away on its own like that mysterious rash you found on your elbow last week. The answer for me is usually to revise my outline to figure out where I deviated or why I have a plot hole.
Ask a beta reader, critique partner or friend to read your work: As the goddess of your literary universe, it’s difficult for you to see minor details. A fresh set of unbiased eyes may be better equipped to show you where the story veered off course or doesn’t make sense.
Write one or two sentences summarizing: what happened in each chapter, what are the character’s motivations, why is this scene important, and how does it link to the chapters before and after it: Plot holes and inconsistencies will jump out at you if you can’t properly answer any of these questions.
Add Foreshadowing: This is the easier fix once you’ve found the problem. Go back and set up whatever it is that will fill your plot hole.
What are some of the writing issues you struggle with?
I hope you liked this week’s blog post. You can read the first chapters of my urban fantasy series The Children of Ekhidna and Typhoeus on the books page.
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