Soggy Middle Troubleshooting

Updated: Apr 16, 2019

Last weekend at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival, I spoke with several writers who have gotten stuck in the middle of their books. They’ve got their plot points and character sheets. They start strong–love their hook, establish their characters and story, and then…nothing. Something feels off, but they can’t really tell what it is—so how can they fix it?

Never fear. Your friendly neighborhood editor is here–with a Soggy Middle Troubleshooting Guide


First, look at your process.

1. Take a step back

Get away for a few minutes. Think about something else. Meditate. Take a shower. Go for a walk.

2. Use prompts

Try using prompts to get your creative juices flowing again. Here’s a great list to get you started.

3. Read the parts you like

Reread your favorite parts that you’ve already written. This can help you shift your mindset from “all I write is crap” to falling back in love with your story.

4. Skip it and move on

There’s no law that says you have to write your story in order. An author on the panel at the festival said she gets unstuck by writing the next scene she’s excited about and then figures out later how she’s going to get them there.


1. Characters

Are your characters doing enough? Specifically, is your main character being proactive?