Unsagging My Middle

No, not my middle. My Story’s middle. I have a character who needs to get from point A to point B in a hurry, but the middle third of my book is starting to look more like the Lord of the Rings than something thoroughly modern, and written by someone who **ahem** doesn’t particularly care for dual person verbs.

There are a few things that need to happen on this trip, but not a lot. It’s not an epic journey, and it’s certainly not the whole point of the story. Just enough that I can’t skip over it and just say “And when he arrived, he took a bath.”

And the whole thing has to be very, very sleek, because I’m running out of spare word count.

As if it didn’t have to be sleek, anyway.

There was a lot of sag to the book, when I started my revision. I’m not sure if I’m talking about words and plot lines that I never should have written in the first place, or if they were… necessary explorations that have now served their purpose. They don’t fit in with the plot, and most of them can’t fit in with the plot.

I’ll save some of them for the next book, and throw out the rest.

I keep coming up with things that could–and maybe should–go in the book, though. A plot card here, a paragraph there.

I have plot cards in an envelope. Counted out and color coded according to available word count. If I run out of cards before I run out of plot, I’m in trouble.

So, how about it? Any plot de-sagging tips I should hear?


  1. Reply

    I’m de-sagging too. I wouldn’t say I have any tips as such, but here’s what I’m doing. Note I’m also trying to cut a lot of length.

    First, I’m figuring out which main characters don’t need to exist, or don’t need to be main characters. Okay, I probably only eliminated one, but that gets rid of her goals and everything related to them, which I hope will be quite a chunk.

    Next, I’m lining up my remaining main characters and figuring out their main story goals and how their sub-goals evolve through the plot. How do they attempt to achieve whatever it is they’re after at each point in time? How does this cause them to change through the story, from what to what?

    Then I’m finding all the parts of my story that don’t tie in to any of the characters’ goals or arcs, and don’t say anything about the theme, and adding them to a folder called “Cut”.

    Finally, I will rake over the mess that’s left and try to make sure it still looks like a story.

    All the best with your de-sagging!

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