Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Curse of the Sagging Middle

Confession: My middle sags.

What is it about the middle? Whether you’re on a diet or writing a book, the curse seems to be the same. It’s as if the middle is a dumping ground, a place for things to go that have no real purpose.

How is this problem solved? I’m writing an outline for my next book right now, and I realize I have a tendency to gloss over the middle. I start with the end In mind, according to my favorite writing paradigm from Dan Wells. Easy. I do the beginning, which is opposite from the end. Also easy. Midpoint, not too hard, it’s just a turning point somewhere in the middle—a mini-disaster so to speak.

But the other half of the book. Everything after the midpoint and before the end. The place where you feel like you have to put a bunch of filler and fluff so you can call it a real book. In my outline, I wrote: “She needs to go through some sort of training.” Glossed over, indeed.

So, how do you build the muscle of the middle so that it not only performs but looks good, too?

To carry its weight, I feel the answer is to treat the middle as a story within the story. I have even heard it said that after the midpoint is when the real story starts. Yikes.

For example, in Percy Jackson, the midpoint was when he was called to go on the quest to find the lightning bolt. The middle, therefore, consisted of the adventures he had in finding it. In Harry Potter, the midpoint was discovering there was a sorcerer’s stone, and everything after was focused on their efforts to obtain it. In both instances, these represented the bulk of the story.

Yeesh, I guess the middle is important—it’s where we tell what we really want to tell. So why is it so hard?

“Yesterday brought the beginning, tomorrow brings the end but somewhere in the middle we've become the best of friends.” -Unknown


  1. Hi Karyn! Thanks for following my blog and your friendship on Goodreads. Keep up the good work with your blog! It's looking well.We all have had to start at the beginning when setting up our blogs! Feel free to keep in touch and if I can help with any blogging questions, just ask!
    I tried joining your blog as a GFC follower but Google seems to be a bit tempermental at the moment. I'll call back later and try again! Best wishes for now! C

  2. My middle sags, too. Unfortunately. With writing, I try to have some small mystery solved by the middle or a mystery or event begins there and carries to the end. Can't say if this formula works though. *sigh* I think I'll go do some crunches.