Plotting Your Novel by Writing from the Middle

As a writer, I am always learning. I think that’s what I love most about writing — the learning never stops. I am either learning something new about myself and writing as I write, or I stumble across new information as I am looking to learn more about writing. This time it was the latter. Recently on Twitter, I ran across a book recommendation for plotting that I loved so much I had to share it here.

Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell is must read for anyone serious about writing. This book goes into detail about why writers should start from the middle of a story instead of the beginning or end (who would of thought!). And how finding a character’s “mirror moment” is essential to true character development.

I definitely believe character development is a key element in a story. The more a reader can relate with a character and feel for a character’s journey, the better the book becomes. And this method certainly will help with that!

This book also helped me realize that I’m a Tweener (I always thought myself a straight up Pantser). I do love writing by the seat of my pants. That’s how I get some of my best ideas, but I also know where I’m writing too as well. I have a loose idea of events I need to reach and about where I need those events to happen. Also, I find already knowing my ending is a necessity to writing, even if I don’t know specifics. Just having a good idea of where I need to stop gives me a clear goal to reach for. But after reading Bell’s book I have an even better way to approach my writing. Start in the middle and Pants my way to the beginning and end. I’ll still have those events and goal posts to reach, but I think it will be far easier to get there knowing exactly what the character’s journey should entail.

And you know this book couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve become somewhat stalled on writing the first draft of my second novel. I think this technique will get things churning quite nicely. Thanks Bell. 🙂

 

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5 Ways to Untangle Plot

This is a subject I haven’t talked about much lately, but it’s certainly been on my mind as I work through the third draft of Blood Feud. The twists and turns my story takes sometimes even baffles me. I then wonder if that’s a good thing. Maybe this story is getting too complicated, or maybe I just haven’t thought things through enough. So then I go back to the drawing board to see how to untangle the twisty plot strings, and hope I don’t make an even bigger mess. Sound familiar?

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Writing is More Thinking Than Actual Writing

What is the most frustrating part about being a writer? I don’t know about other writers, but for me its discovering a fabulous idea that I start writing on, and then part way into the story the idea fizzles, or I lose interest- So much for that fabulous idea. It gets tossed on that dusty shelf where all stories usually never get a second glance. After awhile, looking at the cluttered shelf can get more than a little depressing and I wonder, “Why can’t I finish anything? Why can’t I find a story I really want to write?”

Answer… Because I haven’t spent enough time developing any idea to the point where I can really know it to feel it inside and out, up and down, and all the way through to the deepest core of the idea.

I’ve noticed as a writer that the stories I spend more time thinking on always come out clearer and more fully formed. In fact, as a rule now I don’t even put my story to paper unless I have spent a days, weeks, or even months pondering on characters, backstory, emotional motivations, and different possible plot lines. Once I feel like I have a strong connection to the idea, then I begin to write it down. The words flow and I can’t seem to write fast enough. The stories have complete structure beginning, middle, and end. The best part is I feel a much stronger connection to the characters than I ever did just plopping ideas down as soon as they are breathed life.

I recently heard a piece of advice Ray Bradury gave a fellow writer… “Writing is 99% thinking, and the rest is typing.” When I heard that quote I could only think, “Wow, if only someone had told me that years ago it would have saved me a lot of trouble.” But then I doubt I would have understood that as I do now.

Here are some Ways to Get the Mind Thinking.

A Breakdown of Plot Diagrams

Plot diagram is also called the structure of the story. It is the main outline of what is going on and everything else exists solely to support that structure. There are a couple of different types of plot structure but the basic one consists of Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. Learning Through Listening explains each of the five elements of plot and even breaks down the Cinderella story to help make it even more understandable. Exposition sets up the story and lets the stakes become known, Rising Action is the problem and/or conflict the character attempts to resolve, Climax is where the story is at it’s worst, Falling Action is where the character begins to solve the problem, while Resolution brings the story to a close in some manner. Exposition, Rising Action, and Climax (or beginning, middle and end) is what is called the 3 acts of a story, each plays an important part to the story.
 
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There is also another plot diagram that some use called Gustav Freytag’s Pyramid.
This has the same 5 elements as above but adds two more for a more complete understanding of plot (this is mostly done in literature). It adds Inciting Incident and Denouement. Your 5 acts would be Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Denouement. What is Denouement?


A denouement (pronounced day-noo-maun) is the part of the story just before the conclusion and after the climax. It is the winding down of a story. Where in the book the “Hobbit” Bilbo would be on his way home.
The denouement is the resolution or outcome of a story. The winding down of a story is referred to as the falling action, which comes immediately after the climax. –Wiki.Answers.com

What is the difference between Denouement and Resolution? The Resolution happens when the character solves the main problem/conflict or someone solves it for him or her. The Denouement is the very ending. At this point, any remaining secrets, questions or mysteries which remain after the resolution are solved by the characters or explained by the author. Sometimes the author leaves us to think about the THEME or future possibilities for the characters.
Want to know more about plot and how to build it in your story?  Checkout my blog post to find more out about my free ebook on The Building Blocks of Plot.
What about plot for nonfiction? Does nonfiction even have plot? Check out my blog post Does Nonfiction Have Plot to find out!