Writing the Middle of a Novel and Lagging Stories

coffee dateIt’s the last Friday of the month and that means it’s time for our coffee date! This month I had a reader submit two questions, which I will tackle today. So grab your cup of coffee (or tea if you’re a tea drinker) and let’s get started!

Michael asks: What keeps you writing in the middle of a novel?

I outline all my stories before I start writing them. So what keeps me writing when I enter the middle of the story is whatever I put on my storyboard. Okay, that’s not really much of an answer 😉

One time at a conference I attended, a teacher said that each chapter should have something that pulls the reader along, whether that is suspense, the romance thread, mystery, something that will entice the reader to read the next chapter, and the next. So when I am putting together my storyboard (where I map out my story), I figure out what needs to happen next and what can I do to make it interesting. Here is a visual:

romance->suspense->make things dire->expand the romance->humor->mystery->more suspense

I usually get bored with one aspect of the story, so changing it up not only keeps me from getting bored, it helps the reader take a breather from the more intense or darker scenes by scattering a couple romance threads and maybe some humor in between.

To find out more about how I storyboard and write a novel, click here: How I write a novel.

Michael asks: How do you add interest before the climax, when stories (or early drafts) tend to lag?

If I’ve done what I explained up above well, then with each chapter I’ve made the reader start to cling to the book or kindle with white knuckles, wondering what’s going to happen next? Each chapter in the middle is like a click on a roller coaster, bringing the reader to the top where I will unleash the end in a flurry of twists and dips until we reach the end and the reader is gasping for breath 🙂 (at least I hope so).

I think what also helps me to add interest is I plot out my story and tighten the plot before I start writing. That is where I can see the story and the potential places for boredom or stagnation. If you’re more of a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, then ask yourself two things as you write the chapter: is it boring? If so, which of the aspects I shared above can you add to make it not boring (enhance the romance thread? add suspense? add mystery? make things more dire for your character?). And does it add to the overall plot of the story (or is it a bunny trail)?

I hope that helps. Great questions, Michael!

Every month I answer questions from my readers. They can be personal, how to write, or about my stories. If you have a question you would like me to answer during my coffee dates, feel free to leave the question below and I will answer next month. Thanks!

4 thoughts on “Writing the Middle of a Novel and Lagging Stories”

  1. Hey, Morgan. I like your storyboard idea. Do you have any pictures of one you could share? I’m a visual person and I’d like to see what to shoot for.

    Question: What time of the day do you write?

      1. That’s what I was hoping, though I wish I didn’t have to wait a whole month. But it works out. I’ll need to be storyboarding right about then. 🙂 God’s in the timing!

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