How To Trim The Sagging Middle Of Your Manuscript – Spare Tire

Skinny jeans have hit the Good Will as I passed thirty. For those of you who still wear yours, I will try not to give you a dirty look. For those of you whose maternity clothes became your everyday clothes, I commiserate.

There is just something about that sagging middle that clings tighter than lint to a pair of black pants.

We can accept our fate with bonbons and donuts, but that just won’t help us to make the kind of changes that will improve our lives. Now, it is just a matter of that whole motivation thing and hard work.

Sometimes our manuscripts don’t fit in their skinny jeans either. They have a sagging middle that weights our story down. If we want to keep our readers turning pages, its time to trim the belly fat. And no, taking that morning donut off your desk won’t do the trick.

Tips to trimming the sagging middle:

 *Major plot dilemmas should happen every fifty pages. Without this you are merely meandering through your characters emotional journey with nothing to pull the plot forward. This is a tip I learned from Susan May Warren.

*Every scene needs a character goal and obstacles they must overcome. Remember the author goal and character is not the same thing.

~Author Goal:  What you as the author want to accomplish with this scene.

~Character Goal: What your character wants to accomplish in this scene.

*Every scene must move the plot forward. If you have a scene that has your goal of bringing along the character journey, you still need to make sure it moves the plot forward. Another awesome My Book Therapy tip.

*Combine scenes that share the same purpose. Duplicated scene components just leave the reader flipping pages.

*Add a small twist to the story, or something unexpected every twenty-five pages. It doesn’t have to be huge, but when your reader discovers something new, they are drawn deeper into the story. This is my own little strategy to keep the reader engaged.

*Build stakes in every scene. It makes the reader care what is going to happen to the hero/heroine.

*Maximize the use of secondary characters and dialogue to create interest. Make things funny or have your characters throw in a few fun comments.

What tips do you have on trimming our spare tire or the sagging middle in our manuscript?

For more tips on this check out my book: Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel.

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8 thoughts on “How To Trim The Sagging Middle Of Your Manuscript – Spare Tire

  1. Nice approach to the the sag.

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks! Definitely got to do something with it.

  3. bethkvogt says:

    ROTFL!! I was dealing with a serious case of writer’s “muffin top” a few weeks ago … saggy middle everywhere.
    So I backed up, stopped the word count presses, and made sure the spine of my story was straight. It’s amazing how clothes fit better just by adjusting your posture!
    ;o)

  4. Great suggestions, Michelle. I’m going to print this out and hang it where I can see it as I work on this new book. I read a famous suspense writer (can’t remember who) say once, when things get slow, bring in a body. Works for me. lol Great post!

  5. Michelle Lim says:

    Yes, love the dead body trick. Works great in suspense!

  6. This is very helpful, Michelle. Thanks so much for sharing the things that have worked for you. (Gonna file this away, somewhere easy to locate!)

  7. Michelle Lim says:

    You bet, Patti! We all learn a ton from each other. I’ve learned a lot from other writer’s too.

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