Health Hack for Writers

Finding the Theme of Your Novel

Write Your Novel from the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers & Everyone in Between  James Scott Bell

This is a revolutionary guide on how to discover what your book is really about! I was listening to him explain the value of looking at what happens bang in the middle of your story and boom! I checked and there it was, a moment that illuminated the trajectory of my heroine and the theme of the whole darn story.

Here are excerpts from an interview by Angela Ackerman with amazing writing coach James Scott Bell first published on Writers Helping Writers website

“I’ve been studying plot and structure for over twenty-five years. Plot was something I didn’t understand when I started out…I’ve written maybe fifty novels (not all published!) in different ways. I’ve ‘pantsed’ my way to completed book (no outline or planning) and I’ve outlined others. I’ve done it in between, too. So I know the strengths and weakness of every approach. But finally I have come up with a way.

What is this novel approach? (Pun intended). Well, it’s a method. In this method you don’t start at the beginning and pants your way through. Nor do you start with the ending and outline the whole doggone thing. 

You actually start from the middle

What? That’s what I said – the dead center of your novel. Because it is here, in what I call ’the mirror moment’ that you discover, truly, what your novel is really about. Not only that, but if you nail your mirror moment, you immediately deepen the entire book in a way that will impress agents, editors and readers alike. And even yourself.

I had never considered the midpoint to be that important…and in researching the topic, I discovered there was no agreement on what the midpoint was supposed to do. So I took some of my favorite movies and books and went right to the smack-dab middles and rooted around. What was going on there? What I found literally knocked my socks off. (Yes, I actually had to go around my house picking up my socks, so revelatory was this). What I discovered was that the true midpoint was not a scene at all – it was a moment within a scene. And that very moment, if properly rendered, clarified the entire story.

Now, if you are intentional about what this moment is in your own book, it will illuminate everything for you. The writing will be more unified and organic. If you’re a panster, you’ll be guided on what to pants next. If you’re an outliner, it will help you revise your outline. In this book, I explain how to do that, no matter what kind of writer you are—pantser, plotter or tweener.

Also included in the book are five of my best tips for becoming a more productive and effective writer of fiction. Think of those tips as the ‘Just wait! There’s more!’ part of the infomercial. If I could include a juicer with this book, I would. Or that thing that makes bacon bowls. Instead, I offer to you, my fellow writers, the Write from The Middle Method. It works for me, and I do believe it will for you.