Tips on Plotting and Editing Part 2
by Sherry-Anne Jacobs
Part 2: Middles (from a how-to book by Sherry-Anne Jacobs, AKA Anna Jacobs) This is part 2
of a 3-part mini-series on beginnings, middles and ends by Sherry Anne.
Let's dispose of a couple of worries before we go any further.
WORRY NO. 1: WRITER'S BLOCK
You see a lot of articles about writing, which will try to depress you with tales about 'writer's block', which
is supposed to occur sometimes in the middle of a book. I believe it's usually more a case of needing a rest from
the work in progress. Or you may have gone down a wrong track and be unable to go any further with the tale because
some instinct tells you it's not working even before you realise it consciously. In that case, you'll need to
consider making changes to your plot, structure or current scene before it'll work properly.
WORRY NO. 2: SAGGING MIDDLES
This is another thing it's foolish to waste time worrying about. Of course the middle will sag the first time
through. The whole book usually sags in first draft! Do you think you're perfect? Definitely not. And I believe
that using the computer as a tool makes us less perfect as writers - the first time round, anyway, because it's so
easy to change things later to fix them up. So all right, the middle sags. Not too much of a problem because it
won't sag by the time you've finished revising and polishing.
Just carry on writing. Improve what you can as you go along, get your main story line worked out and unless the
story grinds to a halt because it needs to change direction slightly, you can come back to the sagging bits later
and 'unsag' them.
HIGHS AND LOWS
You can't maintain the same tone and the same level of action and tension throughout. If you've just had a tense
part, relax and offer readers a change in tone. Work up step by step to each minor or major climax, then gentle
About three-quarters of the way through a story (judged in terms of my projected length) I begin to build up to
the biggest climax of all. I judge this stage not only from where I am in the story, but by tailoring the story
itself to the length I'm aiming at, the length the publisher prefers..
The only thing you shouldn't do, whatever the stage, is stop the action. If the basic tale hasn't got enough
going on in it, then invent some more threads, or put in a new sub-plot, expand a bit of narrative into a lively
scene - there are all sorts of ways to add interest and action to your tale.
You should always have a surprise or two in store for your readers. However excellent the story line, it should
never be totally predictable, even in genres where the readers can guess how the ending is going to come out eg
romance, where it's usually pretty obvious who is going to wind up with whom - but not how.
New twists and turns not only put life into a story during the middle stages - they can increase an author's
enjoyment of it - and that shows in the finished product.
The chapter also discusses:
* Structural Editing
* Check For Data Overload
* Be Ruthless If You Have To
© Sherry-Anne Jacobs
If all else fails or you need more inspiration for your middle, read "Plotting and Editing" by Sherry-Anne
Jacobs (AKA Anna Jacobs), published by Training Publications, Western Australia, ISBN 0 7307 1400 4 - order from
any bookshop or buy on line from http://www.bookworm.com.au Visit Sherry-Anne's Website at http://www.annajacobs.com