The Do’s and Don’ts of Sagging Plots

The Do's and Don'ts of Sagging Plots ColorYou’re hands fly across the keyboard, and then you stop. You sigh and feel like you never want to write the story again. You read back the last chapter and realize that it’s because it’s the most boring chapter in the novel, it’s not really needed, and it really just slows down the story. You’ve got a sagging plot.

Here are three Do’s and three Don’ts for a sagging plot:

The Do's and Don'ts of Sagging Plots 4DO: If you’ve got a sagging plot, there’s probably something wrong with the story. There’s a place that doesn’t make sense, or is just crazily boring. If you look back, you can probably find the places. Now that you’ve spotted the sags, you can lighten them up with more tension, or making something hard for the main character.

The Do's and Don'ts of Sagging Plots 4DO: Sometimes it’s boring and sagging because it is a part that is not needed for the story, so you can then simply cut it out. Sometimes this works, and other times you have to shoot for the first DO if it’s a sagging part but still important.

The Do's and Don'ts of Sagging Plots 4DO: Be careful. A lot of times you will think that a part is a sagging part of the plot, but if you look closer you will actually see that it’s extremely crucial to the story and not sagging at all, just a little bit boring. So don’t just go cutting scenes all the time unless you are actually sure that it is a sagging part of the plot.

The Do's and Don'ts of Sagging Plots 3DON’T: Don’t you dare add another subplot! This is a common mistake that people do (definitely including me), where they feel bored, realize the plot is sagging, so they don’t go and fix the sagging plot, they just jump right into an exciting subplot in the book that is even more useless to the story than the sagging part.

The Do's and Don'ts of Sagging Plots 3DON’T: Don’t ignore the sags and move on. You just can’t do that, because if you ignore it, it’s very likely it will stay in the story, and the readers will find it, get bored just like you did, and shut your book and leave it.

The Do's and Don'ts of Sagging Plots 3DON’T: This may seem totally unattached to this article, but don’t rush ahead to write your novel before you’re done actually getting the idea for the story. Even if you don’t outline, you still want a clear idea of what’s going to happen at least for the next few chapters ahead of you. I’m not going to go and blame you for not knowing the ending before you write, but you just don’t want to be totally blind to the story while you write. And if you do take the time to outline, this will almost completely take away any chances of sagging plots, because you can change the outline up before actually writing the story. The best thing about this is that the outline is basically the novel, but it takes twenty minutes to write. It is super easy to change things in it and get the plot straight and ready for writing, unlike realizing you have a sagging plot halfway through your novel so you have to wade all the way back through your novel until you can beginning cutting things and take way more time doing so. Basically, (ONLY IN MY OPINION) it’s just better to outline if you want to avoid sagging plots and a lot more work if you get stuck in one.

So, tell me about what you think! Was this article helpful to you? Have you faced a sagging plot before? Haven’t yet? Talk to me! I’d love to know your thoughts about this! 😀
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8 thoughts on “The Do’s and Don’ts of Sagging Plots

      1. Hmm…thanks for the question!
        Well, to tell the truth, I wasn’t an outliner until not to long ago. I never really had trouble just writing the basic story down. That’s really all an outline is, just writing the skeleton of the story as a very simple draft. You don’t have to try to plan out every scene, you don’t even have to plan every chapter (that is what I do though)! You can just write the very main idea into a little paragraph or two.
        Okay, here’s an example. So let’s say you want to write a story about a guy that is told he must go on an adventure to collect this item which when used will free the world from an evil overlord. (Hahaha so cliche but we’ll use it. Just go with it!)
        So let’s say you do want to write the chapters as an outline. Let’s use this as an example:

        Chapter 1:

        Guy walks through his village. Sees a bird flying past. Smiles and continues. Walks into store and buys bread. Walks out and bumps into crazy old beggar on sidewalk. Crazy beggar asks him for money. He refuses. Crazy beggar tells him to meet him at an old bridge at midnight. Guy is confused but does so. He is scared at the bridge. Crazy beggar meets him. Crazy beggar tells him he must go on the journey to find the object which will free them from evil overlord. Gives him magical sword and a little wooden trinket that is also magical. Sends him on his way. Guy is scared in forest. He hears growls and sees eyes in the forest. Then wolves attack him. He starts running through the forest. Trinket gets caught on branch but he pulls it away and continues to run…and so on!

        Okay, so instead of doing that, there is so much you can cut out there. You obviously don’t go into writing all the dialogue, but things like “Sees a bird flying past. Smiles and continues.” All that kind of stuff can be cut out, simplified, and changed. Okay, now I’ll show you how I would do Chapter 1 Outline:

        Chapter 1:

        Guy walks through village, walks into store and buys bread. Comes out and bumps into beggar. They talk, beggar tells guy that he must tell him something at old bridge at midnight. Guy is curious and agrees. Meets beggar at bridge. Beggar gives him magical sword and trinket and tells him about the journey he must go on. Guy starts journey. Runs into wolves in forest. Runs away.

        See how much more compact and easy that was? It cuts down the writing time, as well as keeps it short and focused. Instead of writing about a bird flying by and him smiling at it in the outline, do that in the first draft! The outline is simply for the key important things.
        I hope this extremely long comment was helpful and if you would like me to go into a little more depth, maybe I could make an entire post about this! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahaha I know I used to ALWAYS just write pointless subplots when I realized my actual story was getting boring, and sometimes I still do and have to catch myself.
      Your so welcome! I’m glad it was helpful! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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