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October 17, 2011

The Dreaded Sagging Middle with Rachel Leigh

My guest today is Rachel Leigh. Rachel lives in the UK and has been married to her own sexy hero for thirteen years. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her reading, running after her two daughters or…playing with her husband.

Rachel is celebrating the release of her erotic romance, Coming Back, which is now available from the Wild Rose Press. Today she’s talking about a subject that I suspect more than a few of us worry about…a horrid sagging middle! Over to Rachel…

Coming BackI am nearing the halfway mark of my latest work in progress and while for some writers that will be something to celebrate, for me it is the opposite. Why? Because it means the dreaded ‘sagging middle’ is right around the corner. Thus bringing my writing/plotting/creativity to a grinding halt and causing me to bang my head up and down on my desk all day, every day until I see light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Now most of you would have heard of this ‘sagging middle’ phrase and know what it means, others won’t. Let me explain.

It is the part of my story writing that I hate the most and occurs every single time, with every single book. I am a blend of two kinds of writer. I am half plotter and half pantser. I always have a two to three page synopsis written as well as character sketches for my hero and heroine before I start writing. However, from page one to the end I continually write the first draft without stopping or editing. The hard work comes in drafts two and three.

The problem is no matter how much detail I feel I’ve put into the synopsis, no matter how much I have written it with my ‘sagging middle’ weakness in mind, there it always is. Bam, like a grinning little cartoon devil poised to poke me in the behind with his shiny trident as soon as I am about halfway through.

So the question is, how do I deal with it? The only way I know how. Keep writing. I dread going to my desk for these days. Have zero enthusiasm or belief in myself or my work. I sit my backside in the chair anyway. These days writing is like pulling teeth but I force myself to write at least a thousand rubbish words a day. The beauty of it is when I feel the sun reappearing as I climb out of the middle and start heading for the home run, I read back what I wrote through those torturous days and I can be guaranteed to keep at least half of it. Result!

So what about you writers out there? Do you suffer with the same weakness as me? Yes? What’s your trick for beating this particular devil?

Or are you a reader? Have you noticed a ‘sagging middle’ in books? Maybe you see them more often than editors do, lol! I love to hear from you.

Rachel’s latest release is “Coming Back” available now from The Wild Rose Press. Here’s the blurb:

Kelly Hampton loved once…and lost. After two years of looking for Sean MacKenzie in other men–and failing miserably–she takes a vow of celibacy. No sex until she finds love. Then Sean strolls back into her bar, reigniting old flames. No one has come close to understanding or satisfying her like he did. Her body burns for the passion they once shared, but her heart still remembers the pain.

Sean escaped Jessop Hill and his father’s fists in the middle of the night without a word–even to his love, Kelly–to protect his battered mother, but he never forgot the explosively erotic relationship he left behind. Now his father is dead and Sean is back for the only woman he’s ever wanted. Their reunion is full of fire – but can sexual attraction and noble intentions overcome years of heartache or will Kelly walk away to protect her heart this time.

Purchase Coming Back

Rachel can be found here:



  1. Ciara Knight

    The sagging middle is something we have all faced at one time or another. I’ve taken classes on this. :) Your book sounds great, off to check it out.

  2. Catherine Bybee

    One must ‘power through’ the sagging middle and fix it during edits. That’s what I do anyway. Your book sounds great. Many sales to you, Rachel.

    • Shelley Munro

      This is what I do too, Catherine. Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft.

  3. Rachel Leigh

    Thanks for stopping by Ciara and Catherine! I hate the middle of each of my works in progress but like Catherine, I just power through.

    Did the classes work for you, Ciara? Is it still available? I am open to any tips, lol!

    R x

  4. Mary Kirkland

    Authors must cover it really well because I’ve never noticed anything like this while I’m reading.

    • Shelley Munro


      That’s good to hear. No one likes sagging middles!

  5. Liz Crowe

    I love the sound of your book! that said, my so far, I don’t have issues with Saggy middles. I write in massive spurts, thousands of words at at a time then take long breaks, imposed upon me by my day job. Maybe that is the answer… feel yourself creeping up on it and just stop. then when you re-start it feels like a beginning!

  6. Deb

    I love the idea of the cartoon devil, Rachel LOL. Great blog.

  7. Shelley Munro

    Welcome, Rachel! I have experienced this saggy middle thing before. With me it’s because I don’t plot, and it means I need to go for a walk and do some thinking. Which helps the other sagging middle. Normally I follow your advice and keep writing. It’s always easier to spot problems and fix them during the edit stage.

  8. Rachel Leigh

    Fabulous to see you here, ladies! Have to say, Mary I am so glad to hear you say that! This is why we write second, third and fourth drafts as well as our editors kicking our backsides before any reader gets to see it, lol!
    Great tip, Liz – I think that is half my problem. Not taking time away from the laptop.
    Glad to make you smile, Deb!

    Hope you’ll all follow me on Twitter!

    R x

  9. Angela Brown

    Well now, glad we got that cleared up. For a moment I thought we were going to have a pow wow about the sagging middle I know best, along with everything else gravity has beaten down over time.

    But the “sagging middle” of writing, I’m getting to know it now with my current WiP. I’m hoping that I don’t get to know it too well.

    • Shelley Munro

      Angela – that sort of saggy middle is just as worrying!

  10. Maria Zannini

    I normally won’t start writing until I’ve plotted each chapter.

    For me, a weak middle means I didn’t find a high enough stake to get it to the next chapter. In that case, I usually go back and kill someone else. lol

    • Shelley Munro

      Maria – that’s definitely a point in favor of plotting. I wish I could do that.

  11. Lydia K

    I’m better about my saggy middles because I outline first now. It’s helped!

  12. Rachel Leigh

    So lovely to meet so many new people! I truly appreciate everyone stopping by. Plus, everyone has made me feel a whole lot better about the ‘sagging middle’ problems I face time and again.

    Definitely think I need to spend more time plotting my stories and ignoring the itch to get started with the writing!

    Thanks so much for hosting me, Shelley – really, really enjoyed being here.

    R x

    • Shelley Munro

      You’re welcome, Rachel :)