- You have to kill off somebody to liven things up.
- Your hero and heroine (hereafter known as H&H) can’t find anything interesting to do, so you bring in the oddball relative/friend/ex-lover to take the focus off the fact that they have not moved the plot forward in the past 3 chapters.
- Your H&H have already jumped the shark by doing the horizontal mambo in chapter 4 so they pick a fight over something idiotic so that one of them can stomp out with the emotional maturity of a 5 year old, separating them for no good reason until chapter 12, and you try to pass it off in the name of ‘conflict’ or ‘romantic tension.’
- You take time out of your villain’s busy schedule of doing nefarious deeds so that he can explain to his idiot henchmen in meticulous detail what other nefarious deeds he’s going to do to the H&H instead of letting us find out as they happen to them.
- You can’t stretch out the major conflict any longer without ending the book so you dredge up some deep, dark secret from one of the character’s pasts so they have some other issues to deal with instead of resolving the biggie too soon.
- You spend 13 paragraphs describing the furniture in the hero’s apartment, what designer clothes the heroine is wearing and what they’re eating for dinner because you only have 1 ½ pages of actual action and dialogue in the chapter so far.
- Out of shear boredom, your H&H have wild, passionate, mind-blowing sex in an unusual, kinky location at the drop of a hat -- forget that they couldn’t stand the sight of each other 5 minutes ago.
- One or more secondary characters take off and run in another direction with a subplot that’s more interesting and exciting than the main plot. Can you say H&H who?
- You have poor little Timmy fall down the well/get kidnapped/come down with a deadly case of Mongolian Body Rot so the H&H have something emotional to bond over since they’ve become emotionally stagnant themselves.
- In padding your middle, you have your characters spend 4 chapters helping Aunt Bertha repair the leaky toilet in the sentimental old homeplace (and bonding over it) when it should have only taken 2 scenes, at most. (Of course, knowing my husband and the 5 trips to Lowes he has to make to complete one project in our house, I guess in reality it could take 4 chapters to fix a leaky toilet. Maybe more. *G*)
- Your H&H start talking about their estranged family members, their traumatic past childhood experiences, or their unrealistic future dreams because they have nothing else plot-worthy to say to each other in the present.
- Your H&H decide to take a quickie vacation for a change of scenery because where they are in the story is about as interesting as clipping your toenails.
- You break to a scene where the villain has some freaky sex because, well, your hero and heroine had that silly argument (see item #3) and still aren’t talking to each other and somebody needs to be getting some at this point in the book.
So what's your sagging middle look like?
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