i need a plotter's intervention

My middle is sagging.

For all you non-writerly types, I am not referring to my recent affinity for (nor the obvious repercussions of) Panera Bread breakfasts.

No, instead (or, in addition) it's the middle of my book that is sagging. (Sadly, it's not even quite the middle. It's chapter four.) I've written subsequent chapters already, because chapter four is a cruel and an unusual beast of a chapter. Nothing very interesting is happening to my main character, Laurel, during her freshman year while she's away at college. She's acting miserably depressed and spending the majority of her time mooning over a boy who still lives in her hometown.

I'm just so ready to get through this section -- things pick up when Laurel goes home and her first year of college is behind her.

But, I'm frustrated. If I'm picking my way through this part of the story -- bored to tears while writing it -- then how will my readers feel when they are reading it?

Somethings gotta give.
Something interesting needs to happen in this chapter.
It needs to move along the plot.
There needs to be more conflict, or some epic moment that sparks a change in Laurel, or at least causes her to want to change.

(This is a cry for helpspice.)


Elle Strauss said…
I would suggest you cut the first four chapters and start the book where it gets exciting, when she gets back to town.
jayme said…
i think you should make laurel allergic to spices, like a celiac or something like that. even though they are allergic to wheat, oats, barley, and rye (or whatever), it still creates numerous opportunities to use the word "spice" ... take it or leave it, but i dig it. spice
Simon C. Larter said…
Why do you need a chapter on her first year of college at all? Couldn't you

summarize that in a paragraph or two at the beginning of the chapter where

everything goes to crap? Like: "Freshman year sucked--mooning over whatsisname back home. I swear, this year will be better. It has to be."

See? Fix for tense and narrator POV, and you're done. You're welcome. :)
Lt. Cccyxx said…
Why do you need Chapter 4 at all? If it's not somehow essential for the story, just cut it. If you're reluctant to cut it, think why not, and maybe that'll tell you what you need to accomplish with it.
In just five comments, you already have some excellent advice, so I'll just cheer you on :) I remember you saying you're a character-driven writer too, so I know you appreciate the human condition and all it's painful facets. You'll find those little parts of your MC's personality to capitalize on, and when you do, plot points will present themselves. Your book's going to be awesomespice!
Shain Brown said…
Everyone is suggesting the obvious by cutting it. If you need it, but it needs spicing up, then spice it up. Add a guy that complicates thigs for her. Make her interest perk and work to remain faithful in her pining of him. Nothing like a little hotspice.
If you can't cut it, then can you add a second plot line that will make the story more interesting in that particular part? That might help change the boringspice into dramaspice lol
Okay your readers are so much smarter than I am. And I haven't read your WIP....but will!

I am reading Anne Lamont's Bird by Bird right now and will be hitting the Plot chapter this evening. She is amazing.

Good luck and I'll come back after I've read more!
Jenna Wallace said…
I once read a quote from a author of thrillers (can't remember who, but it was a big one) who said that when the going got slow, he killed someone. Obviously, most freshmen don't do this. But freshmen girls do some really stupid stuff when pining over lost boys, like going to frat parties, sleeping with the wrong guy, or agreeing to be in a friend's senior film project that involved wearing elf ears (I *swear* we are not talking about me). Is this an opportunity to develop your character by showing how she deals with the frustration of this period in her life?
I would just keep writing and not worry about it. You can cut and change stuff after the first draft is written. I think it will be easier to see what needs to change once you've got the story in its entirety.
Tina Lynn said…
I'm writing the exact same chapter you are. Mooning, pining, brooding. So far it's a chapter of suck. When you figure this out, please help!
Jen said…
HANG IN THERE!! I hate when I'm sagging and bored but I am going to suggest something that always works...


...trust me it makes everything go away!!
Finish the book, don't worry about what's good or bad yet. If you get an idea on how it could be better, then make some notes and continue the book as if the beginning had been written that way. All fixing is for edit time. That's when you will come at this evil chapter with a big butchers knife.
Looks like you've gotten great advice already, but I say trust your gut--it's telling you what to do. If you're bored writing it, cut it. Or at the very least, skip it and move on(although I'm a chronological writer and am giving you advice I can't take myself :) )
B.E. Sanderson said…
Unless you really need it, cut it. (And even if you need something inside chapter four, you could always find a way to weave it in elsewhere.) If you can't cut it, give the poor girl something to do besides laying around pining - maybe her love interest writes her a letter she misunderstands. Or someone from home tells her lies about him just to be spiteful, and she has to figure out the truth.

Hope that helps. Hang in there. :hugs:

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