We’ve all read books that start well, which is probably why we’ve bought them in the first place, and then sag boringly in the middle. Sometimes these pieces can end nicely too, almost as though the author knew where s/he wanted to end up, but didn’t quite know how to navigate the way deftly enough.
Great: I’ve identified the issue, now I just need to make sure that none of my novels (or short stories, for that matter) suffer from this.
Not lagging in the middle of a novel goes hand in hand with pacing, which I shall get to in another post. It’s important to have several story arcs going at the same time, so that the middle isn’t really the middle for all of the characters or all of the situations. This is somewhat easier for me, because I don’t see any of my pieces as being purely plot-led. Character development can occur at any point, so making sure something key is discovered can prop up an otherwise stretchy middle.
Good quality scenes help, as well. Making each part that I write interesting, important in terms of character development, and what I like to term “zesty” (which is about the impact of the novel) is something I can test as I edit and rewrite. Scenes should be like tapas: each strong enough to impress but different enough from others for variety.
If a scene is boring to me, as I write it or as I read it back to myself, it’s probably not going to interest anyone else either. Keeping this in mind, I can eradicate any signs of a flabby middle.