It's happened to all y'all at least once, I'm sure. You get stuck, wondering which fork in the road to take to escape your sagging middle. I've been able to lie to myself for a few months, blame the lack of progress on my WiP on revisions for Evangeline, when in truth, I had no idea how to make the middle of my WiP match up to the end I have in mind.
Until I talked it through with my husband and a friend.
Normally when people in real life ask me how my writing is going, I just tell them I'm revising something old and working on something new. But this time, I mentioned how it had been a long time since I'd worked on my WiP, how I didn't know what to do next. My husband, bless his heart, says, "Kill someone."
At first I resisted, but as I thought about it, a new fork in the road unrolled before me: something I didn't want to write, something I knew would break my heart to do, but that makes sense in the grand scheme of things.
Usually my M.O. in this situation is "add a new character", but I already had a large cast, and didn't want to add to the confusion. But taking a character away, particularly one that the reader has developed an emotional attachment to, works even better to add conflict and ramp up emotional tension. It just leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.
I've often been averse to killing a character for motivational purposes, i.e., revenge. Particularly if that death provides the set-up for a character to go on some bullet-spraying killing spree, or become the next Green Lantern, or whatever; even more so if that character is a woman whose death serves the sole purpose of catapulting the hero into action. Believe it or not, this is a common trope in comics, and is referred to (mostly by women who read comics) as "fridging".
But anyway, I think this time, the death will be meaningful, and feel like it occurs naturally in the plot rather than feeling contrived. Sadly, now that I'm planning this death, all the other pieces seem to be falling into place.
Do you have any tried and true methods of getting around your writer's block? Or to make sure you don't have sagging-middle-itis? I'd love to hear them!