Avoid Saggy Middle and Nail Your Novel’s Ending

Okay be honest now, how many times have you read a novel with a killer opening chapter only to have that ‘ripper read’ fall dead on its face?

Yeah, thought so.

Fortunately, the feedback on Every Time He Dies is that the first half is enticing, and the second half is impossible to put down.

Phew!

But, I’ll tell ya, I worked hard to avoid saggy middle and dud ending syndrome.

I give a book 50-100 pages of my time. If it doesn’t hook me by then, I donate it or return it to the library.

There are too many good books out there to waste precious reading time on a narrative that is half baked.

I don’t want an amazing beginning; I want an amazing BOOK.

So, how do you avoid writing a book with a saggy middle and a dud ending?

It’s simpler than you think.

For brevity, here’s a whole bunch of suggestions:

  • Enlist 5-10 beta readers (who are not family or friends). Your beta readers must be avid readers or writers themselves.
  • Ask these beta readers for their opinion or send them a questionnaire to complete once they have read your book.
  • Look for pattern in their feedback.
  • Create a plan to fix the issues you have identified.
  • Take the time to reflect on the plot and answer the following question:
    -What would make this scene more interesting?
    -What does my character want and how can I take that away from them?
    -Am I including enough believable obstacles? (FYI: Too many obstacles are annoying).
    -Would a change in structure add more intrigue/tension?
    -Am I include action, emotion, and plot development within every scene?
    -Is the story ‘turning’ every four pages? (Thanks, Ken Follett). [watch this week’s video for more details.]
    -Am I including sensory details on every page and moving through all five senses every 1-5 pages?

Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how to fix a saggy middle because manuscripts are like snowflakes, they’re unique and special in their own way.

What I can tell you is that a boring middle and an unsatisfying ending can TOTALLY be fixed.

First, you have to be brave enough to let other people read your work, then you must be humble enough to accept their feedback, and finally, you must be determined enough to make this story work and to write the best version you possible can.

Good luck! You got this. 🙂


 

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