Friday, April 4, 2014

FAVE FINDS: WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE by James Scott Bell

Only two weeks-- that's how little time has passed since my last blog post, and yet here I am at it again, as promised. At the rate I'm going I'm all set to beat my old record of, oh, approximately four blog posts per year. And they said it couldn't be done. Or maybe I said it couldn't. Either way I'm doing this thing. For real this time, y'all.

Today's post--also as promised--is the first in what I hope will become a recurring series titled FAVE FINDS. I thought it might be difficult to choose which of my favorite gadgets, apps, software, books, or techniques to highlight first, but when it came time to decide, there was no doubt. The FIND that has me all tingly to the tips of my toes with excitement this week is the how-to ebook titled Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell. You can find your own copy of it here if you're interested (as well as anywhere else good ebooks are sold).

"What makes this ebook so special?" you might ask. "What sets it apart from the bazillion other how-to's that exist in the world?" Good questions, dear readers. For me it was partially the fact that Mr. Bell has hit on an aspect of writing I've rarely, in all my years of study, found much information about: the middle of the story. And I'm not just talking about the long middle (the Second Act); I'm talking about a specific moment that falls in the dead center of the story (books and movies alike).  Bell refers to this as The Mirror Moment. Whether this moment has been placed there by intentional design or by good old fashioned writerly instinct, it is present in nearly all great stories. And it is a moment that gets down to the very heart of the story.

I don't want to steal any of Mr. Bell's thunder. If you want to know more about the Mirror Moment, you can download the ebook for yourself. It was less than $3 when I bought it, and worth every cent. The ebook is a short one--only 60 pages, half of which are dedicated to non-Mirror Moment tips, but that still adds up to only pennies per invigorating page. (And no, in case you're wondering, I don't get anything in return for this rave. All of my Finds will be sincere joy in sharing awesome things with you, and nothing more nefarious than that.)

The other part of my excitement over this book is that it came at a crucial time for me. When I discovered it I'd recently struck gold with a new story idea that I instantly LOVED. So of course I'd done tons of research and then dug right in to the outline, because at my core I am a plotter, a planner, a leave-no-stone-unturned-er. I was amazed at how quickly the entire story outline fell out of me. And so when I finally sat down to write that all-important first scene, I couldn't understand why it wouldn't come. It simply wasn't clicking.

At first I was afraid my love of plotting had finally gotten the best of me. I've heard some writers say that knowing how the story will end has a way of ruining it for them. I sincerely hoped that wasn't it, because this idea was too good to let go of. But then, after much angst and questioning, I realized my passion for the story was still strong. What I had to admit though was that my gorgeously crafted plot full of hooks, turning points, and a well earned climax was still missing something. It didn't seem to have heart or that spark that brings it all to life for me, and therefor the reader. But how to fix it? That was the big, confusing problem that sat square on my chest like a 1,000 pound gorilla tweaking my nose.


But that's when it happened-- I found the ebook, and the mirror moment, and the rest, if the muse gods smile on me, will soon be rough draft history. I don't know if the Mirror Moment will do the same for you, but even if it doesn't, it's still an interesting spin on an aspect of writing you'll rarely get anywhere else.

Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, whether you've just struck gold with a new idea, or you've muddled through a draft (or five) but still don't know what's missing... heck, even if you think your draft is perfect but want to make double sure it is, I hope this Find is exactly what you need right now. Be sure to let me know if you try it, and if you have any luck with it!

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