Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Sagging Middle

Back to the writing… So, we’ve got an awesome hook. A great beginning. And we know what will happen in the end. So we need to work on the middle of the story. This is where many writers get into trouble and stall.

If you are a plotter (a writer who creates an outline and plots out the entire story), this mostly likely is a little bit less of a problem. You know exactly where you are going and what you need to do to get to the climax.

If you are a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants, and just write only knowing the end but not how you are getting there), this maybe a little more of a problem. By giving yourself the freedom to go where the characters take you (all writers are crazy), it can be a two edged sword. I am a pantser. I find freedom in the art of composing on the fly. It’s not for everyone. You need to find your own way of writing. Whatever works for you, go for it.

Either way that you write, you need to worry about that sagging middle. This is where the story stalls for many different reasons. There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind to avoid that stall. (I don’t remember where I read or heard this so I’m not claiming these ideas as my own…)

Four important parts of a story:
The inciting incident.

We’ve already talked about the inciting incident. Moving on… Complications. This is both in the plot and the subplots, and in character development. Give your hero(s) things to fall, trip, climb, and stumble over in order to make the story stay exciting.

For instance… Lord of the Rings. The plot is a ring needs to be destroyed in Mordor. Someone needs to take it there. They travel to Modor to destroy it. They destroy it. I know that’s over simplifying it but nevertheless it is the plot. What gives the story excitement? It’s the things that the heroes of the story must do to destroy that pesky little ring, and of course, what it costs them.

Now adding complications to the plot just to add complications is not the way to do it. Every complication that you add, every obstacle added needs to advance the plot or character development. It must move the story forward.

We move onto the crisis. This is the climax. Always the story should be moving to the crisis of the story. You can have all of the subplots come to crisis at the same time or have them peak at a different time. If you do so, make sure that they are not more exciting then the main plot crisis. Again I turn to Lord of the Rings. There are so many subplots in the story, it’s hard to pick out one. But I’m going to focus on Aragorn and his rescue of Minas Tirith. His story has been weaved in and out of the entire book(s). Here he takes up his heritage and saves the city and, for the moment, Middle Earth from Sauron’s forces. His story and most of the subplots are resolved by this time. However, the big story is still unfolding. Now he joins (sort of) into Frodo’s story by distracting Sauron. And when the main plot is resolved, i.e. when Frodo/Gollum destroy the ring, his story is mostly finished.

And that brings us to the resolution… but that is for another blog.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and the Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC. Seventh Wave Books is always on the look out for new authors. See the website for more info…


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And it’s November. Where has the year gone? November brings crispy nights (snow if you live in the wrong areas), the smell of wood stoves in the air, football games on TV, Christmas merchandise in the stores (urgh!), thoughts of a huge, delicious meal for Thanksgiving and the desire to write. Nah, not the desire- the gut wrenching, caffeine laden, snack munching, compulsion to write. And not just write, but to cram fifty thousand words in thirty days on paper.
For those of you who don’t know or have been living under a writing rock, in the month of November millions of people world wide turn into Nano-ers. What is that you ask? November is National Novel Writing Month. Or nanowrimo for short. During this month you pledge to other writers (and yourself) to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. Yes, fifty thousand. That’s one thousand six hundred and sixty seven each day. Yes, each day.
Impossible, you say? Nah. Difficult. Time consuming. A labor of love. Yes. A contest between writers? Absolutely. Who can finish first? Who can finish at all? Competition and camaraderie. And the prize at the end? Mostly just bragging rights. Oh yeah and a great start on a novel.
I say a great start on a novel, because during the month of writing, the idea is to go for word count not quality. For once quantity not quality is the goal. So you learn to spell out all numbers (five hundred twenty three counts as four words as apposed to 5323 which only counts as one), separate compound words (can not counts as two words instead of one- cannot), and never, ever use contractions (do not counts as two words while don’t is one). And the best thing, most fun thing, and to most writers that like to use lots of adjectives and adverbs in their writing that eventually get cut by editors, you get to use as many of the wonderful, high descriptive and some times (see- two words) totally use less (another two words) words just to pad the word count.
Seriously though, I’ve participated in Nanowrimo for almost ten years. And won all but two of the years. Almost all of the ‘novels’ I’ve written during this month have a great beginning to a real novel. So when I pare down all of the added words and re-contracted the contractions, and stuck the compound words back together, I usually come up with about 25, 000 words. A really good beginning in any one’s opinion.
If you are up for a challenge and can put aside your inner editor for a month and just write… join the writing community world wide and write. Check out the website at Every region in the country has a group you can join. Spend time on the forums to meet people in your area (not too much time, since you need to be getting words on the computer), or even world wide. If you have a pressing question, there are literally millions of people who you can ask.
So don’t write alone, at least in November. Come join all the other crazy writers. And writers those 50,000 words for the fun of it. Or for a future published novel. Or even just for bragging rights.
Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC. They are looking for authors all the time. Check out the website at

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