You’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:
DO: 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.
DO: 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.
DO: 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.
DON’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.
DON’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.
DON’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.