Writing from the Middle and the Kill Zone

Photo Free for use from Morgue File

Writing Wednesdays

By PR Henriksen

Ok, I get to introduce you to a couple of my favorite things today.

First up- author James Scott Bell.  Not only does he write, but he writes and teaches about the craft of writing too. He recently put out an e-book gem that will get you thinking about how you put your story together called "Write Your Novel From the Middle".  In this book he introduces the worth of starting in the middle. Not like beginning your story in the middle of the action, but actually working your story from the middle out to each side.

He talks about how your main character/story should have a mirror moment in the middle. That point where your character looks in the mirror and decides who they are choosing to be and where they are planning to go. Then you can work your story from the beginning to that choice and from that choice to he decided end. Simple huh? Why didn't we think of that? Maybe you did, or maybe you are so developed and good that you never had to think about it, because you just natural do it. Then there are the rest of us.

To have a well-developed story or character they should be going somewhere.  Characters need to arc, they need to change along the journey or they tend to be flat and rather two-dimensional. None of us want flat, boring, black and white characters. We want colorful, nuanced, natural, and beloved characters. If you use this character reflection/middle moment you will be a long way down the road, towards your goal.

Coincidentally I am in the middle of my current story. And I know 90% of how it's going to end, but how do I best get there, and is my main character actually showing change and proper arcing? I decided to go the golden mile, as I've got a team dynamic, so I wrote down a list of my team members, as well as my baddies. I put down where they started and then I was asking them to look in the mirror to tell me what they saw and where they thought they would/should end up. Let's just say I found a lot more flat-lining than I would like. So, in taking this approach and looking at the characters in my story, I can see where I have deficiencies and where I need to answer questions and bulk things up.

I don't know if I'm good enough to just start right in the middle with a character or a story and then work outwards from there. I think many of us don't know our character well enough to do that at the beginning.  I think as we write and work on our stories we get to know each other along the way. But, I also think we could all benefit from a look in the mirror, to make sure we still look good and that everything is not only going as planned, but that it has a plan.

What do you think?

I highly recommend this awesomely useful short read and small investment in James Scott Bell's book (more than one, I'm betting, once you start looking at them and trying them out! :D).
Not only should you check out Mr. Bell’s writing craft offerings, you should definitely check out his fiction, and sign up for his newsletter (because you get first dibbs and sometimes special pricing on his books). You can also find Mr. Bell on Twitter and Facebook.

Secondly- James Scott Bell is part of one of my favorite writer resource pages:  Kill Zone.  The Kill Zone blog is a group of murder, mystery, thriller writers sharing their wisdom about the crafts of writing and publishing, as well as the crafts of murder, mystery, and thrills.  You can never go wrong while hanging out with the best.  Go check them out!

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