Some people watch television when they can’t sleep. I shop for ebooks, which is how I ended up buying WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE at 3:00 in the morning. People are usually sorry about those middle-of-the-night purchases, but I don’t regret this one at all. I’ve enjoyed many of Bell’s books (see here and here). This is my new favorite.
WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE is a slim volume with a single big idea. Bell focuses on the scene at the exact middle of the novel: the midpoint scene. It is the tent pole that holds up the entire narrative. So many writers complain about the “sagging middle,” as if it is a dreary swamp between the intrigue of the beginning and the excitement of the end. It doesn’t have to be that way. Bell believes so strongly in the power of the midpoint scene, he suggests a writer start there and organize the rest of the novel around it.
Bell pictures the novel as a triangle with the first plot point (The doorway of no return) at the one point and the ramp up to the climax at another. The midpoint is the hinge, the biggest turning point. A well-written midpoint scene has all the high stakes and deep character work that every novel demands, crystallized in a moment of self-awareness that changes everything.
Bell shows how a strong midpoint scene can help both “plotters” and “pantsers” realize the full potential of their novels. By understanding the midpoint moment, pantsers will have something to aim toward and plotters will have something to organize the narrative around. It works for the most plot-focused genre fiction and the most character-focused literary fiction.
When I finished WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE, it was nearly dawn, but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I had to get up and open the computer, excited to start writing the midpoint scene of my next novel.
rating: 5 stars
pie slices: 8 slices craft
this book is best for: intermediate writers
I recommend this book