How to avoid a sagging middle in your novel

How to avoid a sagging middle in your novel

You’re getting in to your characters and your story is forming itself by the chapter. You’re now at the middle of your novel and things seem to be dying out.


This can happen both to pantsers and plotters so no one is exempted. I’ve recently come upon this issue many times and it has caused me to put aside many manuscripts. In my current WIP, I hit this snag again and decided that I needed to do something about it ——– hence RESEARCH!!!!

Funny enough, I hate research when it comes to my law essays but with my manuscripts, it is a life saviour and I crave it and thrive in it.

1. Raise uncertainty about your character’s goals — in the beginning of your novel, you’ve made the focus on introducing us to your characters and their GOAL. The middle can focus on the first steps they take to reach their goal. You can either start them off as getting the hang of it and then throw in something to mess it up or vice versa.

If it is a romance novel, it may be when they actually go out or a scene to make them come into contact with the other person in a way they didn’t realise was possible. If it’s a friends to lovers situation, then it would be when one of them realises they have feelings for the other. Just throw in something that’ll keep us on our toes and interested.

2. Increase plot complications and character obstacles — this is the time to begin throwing in all the obstacles for their race. The hurdles and tyres and climbing walls should appear on the track. It could be subtle misunderstandings that lead to bigger problems or the discovery of a secret that makes them begin to question everything.

The ‘sagging’ middle is sometimes caused by insufficient development towards a climax. We need the grounds to shake and for the earth to quake (not literally haha) but we need something to throw us off balance.

3. Create sublpots that add interest to your main story arc — this one is something I do in all my writing. The middle is the best time to make the story more interesting. Subplots can give characters the knowledge or skill they need to achieve an aim, taking them one step closer to their goal. The same way interesting side characters makes a story richer, subplots do the same thing. Take your main characters on an unexpected adventure (maybe even with a side character) that helps give them clarity or a part-solution to their problem.

4. Stay focused on your character’s end goals — this is the most important one. When a middle is ‘sagging’, it is often that the direction and purpose is disappearing. One thing I would suggest is to go back and read the beginning to remember the GOAL. The whole point of the novel. At this point, you could create an alternate route to a different goal. This point only works if you are trying to teach your characters a lesson (maybe about happiness over work or something like that). But this is the time to refocus you and your charaters’ views on the goal despite whatever direction you decide to take the story in.

Hope this was helpful.

Now, I am going to apply these to my WIP, so I’ll speak to you later 🙂

Insight to an Indie Author’s life

Insight to an Indie Author’s life

Hey lovelies,

Hope you’re all doing okay. With this virus (Covid-19) going on, a lot of people (including myself) are home. I pray that we all stay safe because this too shall pass.

For the reason we are here, I want to talk more about life as an indie author. What does a day look like? How can you be your most productive self?

This is essential because as an indie author there is no one on your tail that wills you to pick up your writing device and get to work. Since this virus broke out, I thought I would write more seeing that I was at home more — but was that a lie? haha

Yes it was. To be honest I am even writing less and I hate it. I realised it was because I was thinking that it would just come to me. That thinking does NOT lead to productivity. I had to start thinking of writing as a job. One I love, let me add but a job nonetheless. This is not to say I was forcing myself to write but I was making the decision to sit down and get some work done. This is because as indie authors, we don’t just write.

Things an Indie Author does:

1. Write — obviously we write the novel but that’s not all. We also write blog posts (like I am doing now) if we have a blog as it is a way of increasing your audience until your new book comes out.

2. Edit — some indie authors self-edit their work. I cover the many stages of editing in another blog post. I do suggest that your WIP (Work in Progress) gets looked at by someone other than yourself and family — if you do plan to make sales but first YOU need to look at it. This is because the first time you write, it is for you. When you edit, it is for your audience.

3. Promote — do not even get me started on this one. As indie authors, everything falls on our head and that includes promotion. We have to become marketers and find out the different ways to promote our work. I do the majority of that on Instagram and I am still learning Twitter (send help) but we do have to find ways to promote our work and that’s where building an audience comes into play. I’ll cover that in another blog post but we have to source different ways to get our work out there.

4. Research — this does not only cover the research for our work in progress. It also covers research on hashtags for Instagram, book cover designs, editor search, format design, Kindle Unlimited, different ways of publishing and so on. I’ll cover the different paths to publishing in another blog post but research covers all that and much more.

And those are just the ones I can remember. We do so many other things that it’s a never-ending list. There’s so much to do as an indie author that it requires a lot of time and energy. From this blog post, I am even getting a better understanding of my job and what I need to do. So if you aren’t feeling your WIP (Work In Progress) then leave it for a bit and do something else. There’s so much to be done for success to be achieved so LET’S GET IT!!

Thank you so much for reading.

I hope you have a blessed day 🙂

Beta Readers

Beta Readers

You’ve written a great story, right? You’ve gone through the editing process and you’ve broken down your story and put it back together. You’ve written something so amazing one that it will soar through the stars and excel (excuse my dramatic self)

Obviously you have written a great story according to your standards as an author. Then you passed it on to an editor/(s) to cut it down and build it back up again.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter how critical you are on yourself and how much you aspire for perfection — you won’t be able to find those secret corners of your manuscript that will turn a reader with the ultimate self control into an junkie for YOUR words.

And that’s where beta readers come into play…..

When I published my first book, if someone said the words “beta reader” to me, I would’ve looked at them like they were mad — ‘why you making up words?’

But a year and half later, I’m recruiting beta readers for my Christmas novella. Beta readers read through your manuscript after it’s been through all the stages of editing. They read the manuscript before it is published just to give some thoughts on the story from a readers point of view.

They are essential because as an author, the story is your baby and there are only so many ways you would be willing to be strict with it. Then your editor would be looking at it like the aunt asked to care for the child — so yeah they may be stricter but there’s a sense of familiarity.

A beta reader is like that one person in the park who sees your child doing something wrong and isn’t afraid to tell you. Yeah sometimes we don’t like that person because we think we’ve done a good job on our own but usually, they are right.

Enough with the family analysis — a beta reader helps tell you what your readers would think. They help to pick up on final areas for clarity and or reorganisation.

When I wrote my Christmas novella, I felt it was a good story — great even (dare I say). But when it came back from beta readers, I knew what I had wasn’t a diamond yet. They pointed out things that I wouldn’t have seen even if I was wearing my reading glasses. They pointed out phrases that maybe weren’t clear or maybe needed a little more explanation.

By the time I finished editing with their recommendations and my editor saw my work, I knew at that time that I had an amazing piece of work. On publication day, my book made it to TOP ten on Apple Books for Fiction and Literature. So, don’t take my word for it, stats speak for themselves.

Thanks for reading.

This post is part of a series I’m starting called Ten Things I learnt from self publishing.


How to pick an occupation for your writing

So, in every story there has to be an occupation. The characters have to be doing something with their lives. They can be in school, college, university, or in an office. It doesn’t matter where they are but what matters is that you want to be able to do justice to whatever you pick.

The key to succeeding in this aspect of your writing is ‘research’. You may be wondering;

“well, I got into the writing business so that I can leave all the stuff I left in school behind”.

I am here to say that what you learned in school applies so much to writing. Today, I am going to show you the best approach to researching the occupation for your characters.

  • Pick a career you know a little about

This is usually my go-to so that the research won’t be so daunting. If you already know a little bit about something, then you have an idea on where to start. For instance, when writing my first book, Hired Fiancee, I picked three main careers. They are medicine, law and CEO. At the time I wrote it, I wanted to be a lawyer and I was going off to university to study law. I had done law at A levels, so I knew where to start.

As for medicine, well it was a supporting career in the book so I didn’t have to go into it as much. I used my knowledge from all the medical programs I watched on TV. So, I had something to start with.

As for being a CEO, I watch a lot of programs and I happened to have been studying economics at the time so I had an idea of where to start from. So, I just had to pick what sort of company the CEO had to run and that’s easier because I had so many things I was interested in at the time. I just picked one of them.

This helped so that the research process wasn’t as daunting.

  • Observe

This is definitely another tip that is very important. Observe people around you, people you see on the street. Just observe everyone and anyone you can. Don’t stare of course but observe. Watch how real people do certain things and it’ll help you to make your characters real.

If you have kids and your setting is in a school then observe your kids in the morning before they leave and in the afternoon when they come back, if you can. I observed certain careers that existed in my family and it gave me an idea of how to write my characters into existence.

  • Ask questions

My mum always told me that if you always ask questions then you would never be lost. Just ask people, very politely about their careers or school.

You will be surprised at how much people will talk to you. Sometimes, people actually want someone to listen to them so kill two birds with one stone. Give someone a listening ear and gain more insight into an occupation to help your writing.

Hope this was really helpful, now go out there and improve your writing.

Till next time. xx