Friday, May 18, 2018

Beginnings, Endings and Sagging Middles

It’s that time for another group blog. This month’s topic is ‘How do you ensure a story has a good beginning, a satisfying ending, and good continuity in between?”

It’s a great topic, but my first thought was, if I knew that I’d be a NY Times best seller. But it is something every writer faces. How do we tackle it and hopefully make it happen?

I’m more of a pantser. I get an idea. Then I start to develop my characters and I start writing to see where I go. I know I need a hook and a few first pages to pull in a reader. I look at what I’ve written, maybe a chapter or two and go back to the beginning. Hopefully by now I’m learning about my h/h. What’s the inciting incident? What causes an abrupt shift in the story? What starts my h/h on their journey? Once I figure out exactly what that is, I write enough information to get the readers interest, and hopefully keep them reading to find out more.

I don’t find the satisfying ending too difficult. I write romantic suspense, so it will be a happily ever after ending. During the journey through the story I’ve gotten to know my characters, their idiosyncrasies, their real goals and they’re challenges getting together. They’ve reached their goals, resolved their personal issues, admitted their love and will live happily ever after.

And the continuity, or sometimes know as the sagging middles, has always been the biggest challenge for me. Keeping the story moving toward the goals, having the h/h grow, address their personal issues and solve the challenges, whatever they may be depending on the genre, this is my challenge. I do draw a basic chart for each main character with their personal issues and conflicts with each other and tick them off as they’re resolved. If I I’m staring at the screen and can’t figure out what to do next I remember what someone once told me. There’s no such thing as writing block, it means you don’t know your story or your characters as well as you should, or maybe you’re trying to make your characters do something that’s against their nature. So I stop, go back and do more research for the story and I talk to my characters.
Hopefully when I start to write again the middle will meet all those issues and proceed smoothly to the HEA.

I look forward to seeing what the other others have to say. I hope you do too. Join me in checking them out.
Skye Taylor
Marci Baun
Judith Copek
Margaret Fieland
A.J. Maguire

Dr. Bob Rich
Anne de Gruchy
Rhobin L Courtright


  1. "Sagging middle" immediately made me think of diet and exercise. And lo, your method of dealing with the issue amounts to that!

    1. LOL! Thanks so much for that thought, Bob. Now back to my 'sagging' middle.

  2. I liked your ending quote! I also have trouble with middles where information is needed but might tend to slow reading or bore the reader. It's hard!

    1. That's a good point, Rhobin, about giving information that might be needed. but how to keep the reader interested.

  3. Your comment that you go back and talk to your characters made me chuckle. My characters are always talking to me. I just have to pay attention and listen up instead of thinking I know what's best for them all the time. Good post!

    1. Yes, that the big part - going back and listening to them.
      Thanks, Skye.

  4. So true about writer's block. If I get blocked, I always know there's a plot/story problem and I try to find out what the problem is. I can't believe we are all pantsers. There must be an outliner in the bunch, but not today!

    1. I'm sure there are outliners there. Maybe if they have everything lined up they don't have the issues pantsers have - sometimes.