Oft times, we writers have to leave a book in progress and turn to promoting one that has recently been published. If we put a lot of time into that promotion, and we should, it means the work in progress sits on the shelf until we forget where we were and what we were doing.

This happened to me after a summer filled with traveling to promote and being on the Internet for the same purpose. I usually have at least two works in progress, one nonfiction and one fiction. I was able to do some work on the nonfiction one during the summer, as well as continue to submit a current novel and try to find an agent to represent my work. But my newest novel, about half finished in draft form, went ignored.
What is the best way to get back into a book like that? This isn’t my first experience, and I find I have to begin at the beginning reading, and of course one can’t help a bit of editing, to get back into the story. My normal advice to beginning writers is to write the entire book before beginning the editing process. Sometimes, though, in the situation I faced, this isn’t possible. There was no way I could pick up where I left off, because I couldn’t remember how I had handled some of the important scenes. There was nothing for it but to read from the beginning.
We all have our own ways of writing. I have plenty of notes, a list of characters, who they are and their importance to the plot, but no outline. I put down the ms at chapter 12, which is roughly halfway through the book. An important place that usually takes a lot of work to get through. It’s necessary at this point to bring in a new twist, something that helps us get through “a sagging middle.” My favorite instructor, Dwight Swain, calls it dropping a corpse through the roof. Not literally, in most cases, but we understand what he means. Stir things up, not only in the plot, but in the subplots as well. This is where things ought to take a turn, usually for the worse.
My normal schedule calls for writing on WIP from Wednesday through Saturday. I post to blogs on Monday, work on Facebook and anything else online to do with promotion. Tuesday is for short works, articles, short stories, anything I’m writing that isn’t a book.
Now, I’ve finished my book tours until spring, where I’ve already begun to set up presentations and events. It’s time to return to that weekly schedule. This week is as good a time as any, though I did work on the WIP last week as well. It’ll be good to settle into a set writing framework. I hope the book takes shape quickly, and I also hope that the one at St. Martin’s makes the grade and the agent who’s reading it likes it as well.
And I hope for all of you, a good start or finish to something you’re working on. Let the year end on an upbeat outlook.

About veldabrotherton

For thirty years I've been a writer. Publication of my work began in 1994 . I'm pleased to have recently settled with Oghma Creative Media as my publisher. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. I recently signed a contract to write westerns again, and what fun it's been working on the first one. If I weren't writing my life wouldn't be so exciting.
This entry was posted in book promotion, Dwight V. Swain, fixing plots and subplots, fixing the sagging middle, Velda Brotherton, writing fiction and nonfiction, writing schedules. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Since I've started blogging I've sort of lost momentum with the books and I'm trying trying trying to get back on track. Part of the reason I read you is for inspiration.(Not that I'm putting you on the spot, Pal.)

  2. Inspiration. It's good to know I help with that, Betty. Sometimes I think I'm just repeating over and over some of the same things here, but maybe it takes that to get the points across. The more we try something, the better we get at it. Thanks for following me. Have a Merry Christmas

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