Friday, March 7, 2008

University Day: Your Middle May Be Sagging If...

No, we're not talking about the sagging middle many of us carry around on a daily basis, either. We're talking signs that you've hit that invisible, yet very scary wall and are suffering from Sagging Middle Syndrome. Next week, we'll have tips for firming up that problem.

Margaret Callaghan
1. Writing gives way to Spider Solitaire.
2. Redrafting the opening chapters has become an obsession.
3. The dialogue between the two main characters becomes forced and stilted.

JoAnn Carter
There is no immediate conflict.
The scenes are not moving the story forward.

Meg Allison
You fall asleep at the computer while editing chapter four.
Your major conflict is resolved by chapter five.
You use seven paragraphs to describe the heroine’s outfit in chapter six. She’s wearing jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt.

Robin Bayne
Your characters begin to venture into scenes that don’t contribute to the story.
Your descriptions get longer, slowing the action to a minimum.

Susan Atwood
The introduction of secondary characters who will only provide “fluff” and have no relevance to the plot.

The emotional play between the hero and heroine becomes stagnant.

Repetition of back story

Judy Huston
Writing it is a chore you begin to dread.
Once it’s finished, even you start yawning when you read it.

Cindy Green
If you are bored with your characters or plot then the readers will be too
You’ve lost focus of the plot to get you to the finale
You do in several chapters what could have been accomplished in one

Judy Jarvie
Where’s the oomph gone? If you’re feeling like you’re train’s run out of steam, there’s a sagging middle.

You’ve peaked too soon.

Josh Lockwood
I know I’ve got a sagging middle when I start adding scenes that don’t contribute
to the story just because I need the word count.

Gina Hartoog
* You lose interest in the story as you get into the middle chapters. If it doesn’t grab and hold your attention, it’s unlikely to affect your readers.
* Your characters lose their depth and become two dimensional
* Plot loses impact. Scenes don’t propel the story forward.

Deb Kinnard
1) You fall seriously out of love with your plot or your characters.
2) You re-read your middle chapters and discover that although you’ve written some dynamite scenes, absolutely nothing in them moves the plot forward.
3) You’re not being rough enough on your characters.

Angie Martin
The sagging middle… well, one sign that it’s sagging is when you decide that you are getting bored reading it, and just want to skip ahead.

When your characters seem “out of place”. Would they really be in this place/situation if they are headed for the ending you are planning? Or are they just wasting time?

When the character’s conversations have become stilted and they seem to spend more time watching the scenery around them than actively doing something.

Sherry Jones
Sign number one – The original conflict hasn’t been resolved, increased, or changed in any way.

Sign number two – The characters aren’t revealing any new information and have become ‘talking heads’ — generating conversation, but little substance.

Sign number three – The emotional stakes haven’t changed so as to show character growth.

Laura Hamby
#1 No matter how hard you try, you can't finish that sentence/phrase/paragraph/chapter.

#2 What you have been able to write contributes nothing to the story plot-wise, romance-wise, character development-wise-- in other words, it does absolutely nothing for the story arc.

#3 You've written just exposition, or just narrative, or just action.

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