Sounds a bit like something you might go and see your doctor for, doesn't it? Unfortunately there is no magic pill, potion or powder to relieve this particular ailment. The only cure is to cut it out. The knife must be wielded. Or at least the pen, because I'm not talking about any physical condition, here. I'm talking about something much more serious. I'm talking the bogged-down, heavy and often dull mid-section of every author's most treasured possession, which is the Work in Progress (WIP).
So why the soggy middle? Because it is, quite literally, the mid-point of the story that has become boggy, heavy, dull (irrespective of how much action there might be). The WIP has become, well, soggy, like the middle of a badly made cake (if I can get a reference to cake in, then I will).
The excitement of the early chapters, where the stage is set and the MCs have been introduced, is long gone. Conflicts have been created, sexual tension hangs heavy in the air, hearts have been broken and love is on the line... and then the story loses its fizz, sparkle and zest, like a half-empty bottle of champagne. I hold the fates of my guys in my hands. I know where I want the story to go. I even have a pull out all the stops resolution but the soggy middle, all wet and sticky, is slowing everything down and making the journey to that HEA one hell of a drag. All authors experience this in some shape or form. If they say they don't, then I simply do not believe them. Sorry, but I don't.
I have experienced the curse of the soggy middle with Jake's story, the third and final in the Urban Love series. The plotting and planning was going great guns. I'd plotted about 75% of the story. I read the precis of each chapter, but at the mid-point thought, meh, something's not right, it's all got a bit low key... Thing is, I couldn't put my finger on what it was. All I knew was the fizz had gone. I felt stuck. My head hurt with all the thinking about it. So I stopped thinking, and that was the best thing I did as I literally cycled my way out of the soggy middle and back to dry land.
I was in my regular spin (static cycle) class and while the instructor was balling at us all to climb those mountains, hike the gears up, give it 100%, I was letting my mind wander. And that's when it came to me: what I needed to introduce, shift around and cut. It wasn't much, everything was already there in the story to lead me to what needed to be done, I just hadn't realised it.
Jake's story, and his now no longer soggy middle, will be available in the New Year and will complete the trilogy which started with Matt and Rick (Loose Connection) and then Archie and Zack (The Story of Love).
A E Ryecart
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