Monday, December 1, 2014

Advice for that Sagging Middle by Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck

Hey everyone, Annette here. With NaNo behind us (raise your hand if you participated), we've got some editing to do. Or perhaps you're plotting and need some advice for that pesky Act II. Thankfully, seasoned author and writing coach, Rachel Hauck, is here today to help us keep the middle of our novel from sagging. Read on!

Advice for that Sagging Middle
by Rachel Hauck

Tony Horton is the king of getting a body into shape. His methods work. His Ab Ripper X routine is fifteen minutes of 339 core moves. Halfway into the routine, you want to quit. But you know you can’t, so you cheat. Instead of doing all the reps in a series, you do it halfheartedly or only half the moves.

Fine. As long as you keep going and work harder the next time. That’s the way you build up endurance. The way you build your abs. Doing all of the reps all of the time.

It’s the same with writing the middle of your novel.

You have to “work out” the middle of you book. Rip it! Get it lean and mean. A lot of times, the middle of a book gets fat and fluffy with nothing more than a rehash of what was set up in the beginning of the book.

The middle of the book is the character journey. It’s where everything goes wrong, gets dark, scary, and ugly. Where all hopes and dreams are crushed! You have to up the stakes, advance the plot so it becomes darker and darker—worse and worse until you arrive at the Black Moment.

This is probably the hardest part of writing a novel.

Authors can easily plan a perfect opening with an exciting Inciting Incident, and determine the Black Moment then wind it all up with a Happily Ever After, but boy, how do you get the middle of the novel to hold strong?

1. Do your homework up front. What is the story about?

2. Once you’ve determined what the story is about, build those internal and external conflicts. A lot of time when I read a book where the middle is soft and fluffy with no real tension it’s because the internal and external obstacles are not high or dark enough.

3. Turn the story inside out and upside down. What does your protagonist want? What’s this story about? Now, create all kinds of obstacles that keep them from that goal. The middle is about overcoming those obstacles.

4. Resist the urge to solve every problem. Resist the urge to have folks get along. Bring a problem from chapter two or three front and center in chapter one.

5. Drop the bomb. It’s easy to hold off too long on the big reveal— the wow moment that blows up everything for the protagonist. We often plan this as the Black Moment but many times that bomb can be dropped into the middle of the book! Once you see where the story shrapnel lands, you can develop a new and even better Black Moment.

If you hold off on a reveal, the middle of the book can become muddy and the writing circular by rehashing the same issues with the protagonist. 

Keep the tension taut with dialog, and don’t let that middle sag.


Learn more about best-selling and award-winning author, Rachel Hauck at her website. 
Twitter: @RachelHauck 


Revealing the beauty in other women might be Ginger Winters’s specialty—but it will take an unexpected kind of love to help Ginger see the beauty in herself.

Ginger Winters drapes her hair over her right shoulder and adjusts the scarf around her neck to cover her scarred, withered skin. She’s had the scars since she was twelve, but she’ll never get used to the ugliness. 

The fire changed Ginger’s life, but out of the pain and humiliation of her own disfigurement, one quality unexpectedly emerged: a gift for bringing out the beauty in other women. In a twelve-year ascent from top salon jobs in New York, Atlanta, and Nashville, Ginger traveled the world as personal stylist to country music sensation Tracie Blue. The success was almost enough to make her forget her own appearance. 

Almost. Now that she’s opened her own salon in Rosebud after a dozen years away, the truth is staring Ginger in the face again: she’s still that girl, ugly and scarred, forever on the outside looking in. And this weekend she’ll be looking in as “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.

But when high-school crush Tom Wells shows up looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her from love once again . . . despite Tom’s best efforts. Can this professional beauty-maker manage to recognize the beauty in herself, or are some scars too deep to powder over?