Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday Review—Write Your Novel From the Middle

by Lynn H Blackburn

I’m not a big fan of starting in the middle.

I refuse to read a series out of order, I won’t start a TV show on Netflix if I can’t watch from Episode 1, and please, please, please do not ask me to slide into a movie ten minutes after it’s started.

So why on earth would I be interested in a book that suggests I start writing from the middle?
A couple of reasons.

1. It’s by James Scott Bell, and I’ve read everything craft book he’s written and don’t intend to stop now.

2. Every writer knows that the middle is where things can get dicey. The thrill of beginning the story is gone. The climax is so far away. We try to stay motivated, but sometimes the middle gets mushy. Maybe starting from the middle wouldn’t be such a bad idea?

3. Guess where I am in my WIP? Yep. Smack dab in the middle.

That was enough for me to hit the “Buy with One-Click” button. I started reading Write Your Novel From the Middle in the morning, and even with multiple interruptions (otherwise known as my real life), I finished it that evening.

So yeah, it’s a short read. With 85 pages of content, the $2.99 e-book is the way to go and is a good value.

In typical James Scott Bell fashion, Write Your Novel From the Middle is an enjoyable read—there’s nothing dry or boring about this craft book.

He lays out a solid argument for how important the middle—not the middle chapter or the middle scene—but the middle moment is in the book, using powerful examples from literature and film to back up his claims.

Then he describes a process that can be applied to your WIP no matter where you are in the process (brainstorming or editing) or how you approach your story (organic discovery or detailed outline).

I’m still mulling it over and seeing how it applies to my WIP, but he’s got me thinking that maybe the middle’s not such a bad place to start after all.

So what do you think? Want to try starting from the middle?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Looking for a Writing Book @LynnHBlackburn suggests WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE @JamesScottBell on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about faith, family, and her writing journey on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and the Word Weavers, Greenville. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.


  1. I read this book also and found it very helpful. It's helping me with my current WIP.

  2. I almost fell over when I first saw the title of that book. Finally, someone who understood! I don't always write my stories in order. I have, at times, started at the climax. In many ways, to me, it makes perfect sense. You want all the other scenes to point to this one. Shouldn't you know that scene well. That way, as you're writing those other scenes, you can build in foreshadowing without thought. I don't always write this way, but you can believe I've spent much time conceptualizing the pivotal moment in my head before I've begun.

  3. Thanks for introducing this book to us. Sounds like something I need as I begin my next book!

  4. Yes! This was a Godsend for me. I was already a proponent of Bell's "man-in-the-mirror" moment after seeing him at the ACFW last year. But this idea--making it the very anchor and beginning of you novel, just struck me as pure gold. It makes sense right? The middle point is like the center pole of a tent. And that goes up first (okay, weak analogy, but you get my drift). But by directing everything toward and away from that center point, we no longer have the issue of the sagging middle. The entire book will be better for it. Loved this and loaned it to my partner. It's a very short must-read for any author.

  5. Ok, I have seen so much out there on this book, I think I am going to have to purchase it. (Being a little stingy with my money lately--you know, bills and such). I am new to the craft, but have heard repeatedly that anything by James Scott Bell is a good read and informative. I will soon know for myself.

  6. I bought this book the 2nd day it came out. And read it that night. Love it! Used it in a workshop. And I'm using it in the 3rd book of my Logan Point series. It is absolutely working!