We're all familiar with the dreaded "sagging middle", that bed of quicksand that's sucked the life from many a hardworking writer. Well, I'm smack in the middle of my current manuscript and have to admit it's getting the better of me. It isn't sagging. In fact, I've just finished a major action scene, and the hero and heroine have shared important revelations. That's part of the problem. I have to figure out ways to keep the tension building.
I'm suffering a crisis of confidence. I'm a plotter, and I'm afraid I don't have enough plot to fill the second half of the book. I've got an idea of what happens next, but when I look at my outline, all I see is "growing attraction, humorous scene with the robot, another action scene, couple makes love, climax action scene, HEA." I have details for those scenes, but they won't support another 42K words. I need to do some serious brainstorming, and I've always been lousy at it.
I've never had this problem before, but this story has the most complex mystery/suspense plot I've ever concocted. All four main characters are hiding secrets from at least two of the others. Unbeknownst to each other, the hero and heroine are working undercover on the same case. Suspicions abound, and I'm about to lose my freaking mind.
It's so hard to remember who suspected what when, and who revealed what to whom at what time. I finally broke down and wrote it up in chronological order, like an outline, but only containing the suspense elements. At least now I can go back and check without having to page through the manuscript trying to find a couple of key sentences. Why did I ever think this story would be fun?
It would probably be easier if I were a faster writer; I might be better at keeping the details straight in my head. It would also be easier if I stuck to a single POV. (I now know why so many mysteries are written in first person.) However, I've always written my romances from both the hero and heroine's points of view. I like getting inside the hero's head, and many of my readers have said they do, too.
The one saving grace at this point, and what will pull me out of this quagmire of creative anxiety, is that I'm delighted by what I've written so far. When I re-read earlier passages, searching for the details for my outline, I had that wonderful feeling of reading something funny and new, as if I'd had nothing to do with it. That's one of the few benefits of writing slowly. You forget what you wrote a month or two ago and can see it with fresh eyes. By the time I finish the first draft and start revisions and edits, I hope to be thoroughly entertained by the work of a complete stranger. Wish me luck!