Trim the Fat & Escalate: Tips for Writing through the Middle of Your Novel

Writing through the middle of your novel can be tricky.

Here are two tips for building a solid “middle” of your novel.

Tip #1: Trim the fat.

When writing the middle of your novel, trim the fat. Write lean and without excess words. Avoid anything that’s boring or slows the pace of your story. Sure, this advice applies to any location of your novel, but it’s especially important to remember when writing the middle of the novel because often, that’s precisely where the novel bogs down and slows a bit.

The middle is a tricky time for holding readers’ attention.

Keep your readers engaged in a tightly-written novel void of excess words, “info dumps,” and unnecessary or overly lengthy descriptions. If it feels difficult to write and feels like the story is going nowhere, it’s probably difficult to read, too.

So write lean.

And when it’s time to revise and edit during the 60-Day Edit cycle (May & June) – cut. Cut, cut, cut. After you cut, cut some more.

Tip #2: Escalate.

As you approach the middle of your novel, be aware of the need to escalate the action to prevent your plot from moving laterally, or worse, “sagging” in the middle.

Don’t lay down a series of events, one after the other, if they don’t also rise in action. Lateral steps have a place in a novel, but it’s risky to place them in the middle. Avoid writing scenes that feel as if the plot is moving sideways or along a flat surface.

Write scenes that raise the action and the stakes.

Some tips:

  1. Use tension to escalate.
  2. Use a plot twist to escalate.
  3. Use a reversal to escalate.
  4. Use a surprise to escalate.

Use whatever technique or device necessary to amp UP the middle of your novel. Mid-point in your story should feel as if the plot is CLIMBING toward a goal, a point, a summit.

When writing through the middle of your novel – keep your reader in mind.

Trim the fat and escalate.

Good luck and keep writing!

Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie

85K Writing Challenge: Embracing the writing life by advancing the practice of productive writing from the first word to the first reader.

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