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Sagging Middles Suck Dead Toads

photo of sagging barn

This old barn just east of Tensleep, WY looks like someone just let the air out of it. Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I had sagging middles on the brain when I saw this photo in the hubs Flickr feed. Gravity has not been kind to my middle, but that’s not actually the middle plaguing me at the moment. Or should I say it is not the only middle plaguing me. O.O

As an author, I fear the sagging middle. What middle is that, you ask? It is the middle of the book or novella or short story. Yes, even short stories need a middle that does not sag.

What usually happens is that I get an Idea. When I was a new writer, I’d race toward the idea and tackle it. This caused the idea to mock me, then vanish. Or lay there like a dead thing.

I have learned to stalk ideas, to approach them with extreme caution. Sometimes I have to lure them into the Muse zone. Or trick them. I do that, too.

Once I have the idea contained, then I try to capture it on paper. Despite lots of care, even good ideas can plot sag in the middle, leaving me flailing around and frustrated. When I was a new writer, I had to abandon a lot of ideas, just leave them laying by the side of my creative path. This made me sad and at times, I’ll go back and look at those ideas and go yeah, totally dead. Possibly stinking.

These days, if I get an idea into the Muse corral, I can usually figure out how to re-inflate that middle. But each time I face it, I have to remind myself that I’ve been here before and I’ve figured it out. It’s kind of funny (not), how confidence deflates about same rate as the middle. At least these days, I know both confidence and plot middle will return after a suitable period of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But for now? It sucks dead toads.

Anything sucking dead toads — or making your middle sag — in your life right now? (I know one of my “cures,” the liberal application of chocolate, is very bad for my real middle). All comments are entered into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket that will have no impact on your real middle. Because it’s soap. It’s very soothing, however, and great for dry skin. Winner is announced the first blog post of the new month.

AnaBanana logo

Perilously yours,


Pauline is always happy to get clear of plot middles. She’s managed to do it enough times to write 13 novels (hmm, bad luck blog post incoming??) and some short stories. Her latest novel is Relatively Risky: The Big Uneasy 1 and her latest short story is Family Treed: The Big Uneasy 1.5. While she is slogging and weeping and wailing and gnashing her teeth through the next installment, you can read these or check out her back list. You can find out more about all her work and sign up to hear about her new releases by visiting her website at

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, action adventure

A girl. A guy. Bad guys with guns. What could possibly go wrong?

Available at Amazon in print, digital and audio! Get “Family Treed” here.


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