FIRMING UP THAT SAGGING MIDDLE
By Lynda Lee Schab
There’s a lot of sagging going on in my house.
My son is sixteen. And if you have a teenager, you probably know what the term “sagging” means. While we don’t allow him to wear his pants too low, it’s not uncommon to glimpse the band of his boxers above the “waist” of his jeans. It doesn’t help that he has no butt, but that’s a whole other issue.
Then there’s the sagging of my, um, 40+ body parts. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
But those aren’t the types of sagging I’m talking about today. I want to talk about the Sagging Middle. No, not MY sagging middle, although that is included in the body part thing. I’m talking about my novel. I like to call it The Droop.
If you’re on Facebook, you may have seen my status the other day about how I hate my novel and am convinced that no one will ever want to read it! So I was having a moment and needed to vent for a minute. Sue me. Honestly, I’ve heard many authors express these same feelings at some point during the novel writing process. I do feel that much of my frustration had (still has, actually) to do with the fact that I’m now plodding through the middle of my story, which is by far the most difficult part for many authors.
Personally, I love writing beginnings. I’m pretty good at coming up with the opening pages. I also love wrapping everything up and writing the ending. But that middle…ugh! Unfortunately, the middle is the largest section of story. Which ultimately means I’ll be spending the majority of time frustrated. Not cool.
I gathered some advice for firming up that sagging middle. If you’re in the same boat, maybe these tips will help.
1. Writing prompts. Ask yourself questions about your story and see where your answers lead.
2. Conflict, conflict, conflict. The more conflict you add, the more interesting your story.
3. Write the ending first. This may help trigger the exact ideas you need to fill the pages in between.
4. Call a friend to brainstorm. Two (or more) creative brains are much better than one.
5. Add another POV. It’s amazing how re-energized you can get simply by adding another character’s perspective.
6. Take a few days off. Give your brain a break. Read a book, spend time with your kids, watch the entire season of Lost. When you go back to your novel, hopefully you’ll be more inspired to start crunching again.
I’m in the process of setting up a brainstorming meeting and even have a couple of one-on-one sessions set up for this week, and I’m optimistic that it will help. Hey, I may not ever see my son’s jeans hitched up to his actual waist, and my body parts may never be as perky as they once were, but I can definitely do something about my sagging middle.
So Q4U: What do you do to help combat The Droop?
LYNDA LEE SCHAB got her writing start in greeting cards (Blue Mountain Arts, Dayspring) and from there went on to write articles and short stories (Mature Living, Christian Home & School) and in many places online (including www.Examiner.com and www.wow-womenonwriting.com), but her passion has always been fiction.
Mind Over Madi, her debut novel, is near and dear to her heart. Lynda admits she has a lot in common with the character of Madi. Not only are they both addicted to ice cream, chocolate, and computer games, they struggle with the same types of insecurities and continually require a hefty dose of God’s grace.
Lynda works behind the scenes at FaithWriters.com and is a member of ACFW. She is a regular book reviewer for FaithfulReader.com and is the Grand Rapids Christian Fiction Examiner and the National Writing Examiner for Examiner.com. Lynda lives with her husband, Rob, and two teenagers in Michigan.