How to Write A Fiction Novel, Part 4 – How To Avoid the Squishy Middle?

No, we’re not talking about diets. We are talking about the most fatal part of a book, the part where if it’s not interesting anymore, the reader closes it for another day. I was talking to a book reviewer about this topic and was told that’s where they put down the book and they’re done. You don’t want this to happen to your novel. We’re going to go over a some options to prevent this.

In my book Vampire in the Basement, I was working with two couples and a series of helping or hurting characters (good guys and villains). My goal was simple: reunite lovers and save lives. The challenge was how to defeat the enemy, while keep it interesting, revving up the action, surprising readers with unexpected twists and turns, and still have fun in the story. Certain characters in this book are madcap. Why? Because I couldn’t help myself.

To make it easier to explain, I made a Character Growth Line Showing Plot Points in a Fiction Novel. You begin with a problem to solve, in most cases the character or characters are in the middle of something important that changes their lives. This chart is only a sample. Your chart may have more ups, downs, plateaus, back tilts and holes.

  1. Your character may think they are doing well but things are getting harder and confusing. 


2. Things you didn’t depend on happen. Your character gets divorce papers, their house burns down, company shows up, a crime happens, etc. It’s a setback.

3. The lines going straight up means events are happening faster.

4. Plateaus or straight across lines mean a moment of peace, rest, hiding safely, loving someone, but you only get a moment. Every event along the way teaches the main character something they will need at the end.

5. Here your character falls in a hole (literally or metaphorically) and they may think you’re doomed. They manage to get out of the trouble temporarily then they’re running. The climb is straight up into the unknown.

6. Here is the Whoa moment. Your character maybe a little deluded here, thinking they’re in the clear. But every move forward is harder and may even be dangerous. They may even think they’re moving backwards.

7. Sacrifices are made. Something or someone they counted on is out of the picture. They’re on your own.

8. A moment where every second is precious. It’s like making love to someone who has their heart for the last time. At least they think it’s for the last time.

9. This is the setup. Your character thinks they have it all together and they can beat the big bad.

10. FALL IN BIG HOLE. This is also called the climax. It’s the do or die time. Make it exciting. Make it unpredictable. Make your hero or heroine heroic!

11. Make your ending memorable. Come up with a great ending quote.

Now your plot line may have different bumps and twists. Remember it’s all reaction and action throughout the book. Play on your main character’s fears. Make them bigger. Make them grow.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of Vampire in the Basement. It’s the sequel to When Love Survives.
Waking up with Gregor’s strong naked body against hers was a hundred times delicious, so delicious, that it was easy to forget they were sharing a makeshift bed of an open sleeping bag and blankets in a cave somewhere in Maine. His great, strong arms embraced her securely, not so tightly as to impede breathing, but enough to make Regina feel worshipped and adored and aware that he was still worried about her. The raw energy of the forest beyond the cave flowed into her, increasing her strength and making her glad to finally realize her half elf, half leprechaun heritage. The horrible feeling of having her life sucked out was almost gone.

The man holding onto her so tightly saved her life and sanity. A part of Regina questioned if she loved Gregor because of that. She closed her eyes and thought back to that time climbing through the rubble of the towers, listening to the screams in her head, as she tried to locate survivors. Regina could still see the face of the dying man. All she did was send a spark through him like she’d done thousands of times before to recharge batteries. But this time it was enough to save a life. Sighing, she hugged Gregor and he responded by squeezing her a little tighter. Gazing at his handsome sleeping face framed by thick dark hair made her heart finally peaceful. Gregor was her refuge, her champion, and everything she needed love to be. My big, brave bear of a man.

Gregor growled in his sleep, and she couldn’t help kissing the stubble of beard on his cheek. How does he always manage to look so ‘drink me up sexy’? A part of her couldn’t help but be annoyed, but the other part of her enjoyed looking at him too much. Then he moved onto his back, and she couldn’t resist crawling on top of him and brushing her lips ever so gently on his.

In one swift movement, he had her on her back. His blue Maine summer day eyes sparkled with mischief. He kissed her, peering down at her. “What were you up to when I was asleep?” His low rumbling laugh made her body shiver.

“Gree, I was thinking that I feel well enough to go back to New York.”

“Sweetheart, there aren’t anymore survivors to find.” He stroked the side of her face, his fingers lingering in her hair.” I had to get you out of there. You were dying.” As his mouth pressed against her lips, his tongue pushed them apart and caressed the inside of her mouth until she gasped. “I love you, Reggie. How would I live without you?” With his lips, he worshipped her eyes, her nose, and finally her mouth again.

“Still we should have stayed.  There might have been something else we could have done.”

“No. There wasn’t.” His eyes narrowed.” You’re afraid to meet my family.”

“No,” she stammered. “It’s not that at all.”

He chuckled. “Yes, it is, Regina.” He bit her lower lip playfully. Then he brushed a lock of hair tenderly out of her face. “Listen, I’d be nervous if we were in Alaska meeting your parents.”

Regina couldn’t help the trepidation she felt. As far as she knew, they were only minutes from his house. “What if they don’t like me?”


Here’s the blurb for the book.

Regina and Gregor
They survived one of New York City’s greatest disasters, and on their wedding day in Maine walk into another. Gregor aims to destroy the intruder who claims his bride. Regina must save the man she loves from a deadly curse with her magic. But she doesn’t know magic.

Lorraine and Theo
Everything about Lorraine is broken. She shapeshifts and forgets her clothes. She’s divorced and doesn’t believe in love anymore. Tall, blond, and handsome, Theo, vampire and Arnhem Knight, desires Lorraine, but is it more than lust? Would he give up the Arnhem Knights for her?

Love, furry handcuffs, and a pine tree.


Vampire in the Basement is a great example of a book that keep moving and is unpredictable but fun.  It’s currently available only in Kindle.

If you have been following along, be sure to look at the actions and reactions of your “people” as you write. Dialogue is included in reactions.

If you have missed the other lessons in “How to Write a Fiction Novel,” here they are:

Happy Writing. Next week we will talk about the “Climax.” If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write them in the comments box.

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!

NEW: Vampire Princess of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 2 available in Kindle! In Amazon Print! In Barnes and Noble Print!
Vampire King of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 1 available in Kindle and Print and  Barnes and Noble Print
Vampire in the Basement, Vampires in Manhattan, Book 4 available in Kindle.
Poseidon’s Catch (mythology romance) available in Kindle.
Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room (steampunk romance) available in Kindle.
A Vampire for Christmas,Vampires in Manhattan, Book 3 available in Kindle.
The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, Vampires in Manhattan, Book 2 available in Kindle and Print and Barnes and Noble Print
When Love Survives, Vampires in Manhattan Book 1 available in Kindle and Print, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.
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About Susan Hanniford Crowley

Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Author
This entry was posted in A Vampire for Christmas, How to Write A Fiction Novel, Max Vander Meer, Norse, paranormal, paranormal romance, Part 1, Part 3 - Do Your Characters Breathe?, Part 4 - How To Avoid the Squishy Middle?, romance, romance novels, Susan Hanniford Crowley, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, vampire books, Vampire David Hilliard, Vampire King of New York, Vampire King of New York In Print, Vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, vampires, Viking, Weekly Paranormal-Scope, Writer Workshops, Writer's Life, writer's inspiration, Writing Advice, Writing Craft, writing life, writing workshop, Yule and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How to Write A Fiction Novel, Part 4 – How To Avoid the Squishy Middle?

  1. Pingback: Tell Again Tuesday Writing Fiction | C.D. Hersh

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