Plotting Your Novel by Writing from the Middle

As a writer, I am always learning. I think that’s what I love most about writing — the learning never stops. I am either learning something new about myself and writing as I write, or I stumble across new information as I am looking to learn more about writing. This time it was the latter. Recently on Twitter, I ran across a book recommendation for plotting that I loved so much I had to share it here.

Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell is must read for anyone serious about writing. This book goes into detail about why writers should start from the middle of a story instead of the beginning or end (who would of thought!). And how finding a character’s “mirror moment” is essential to true character development.

I definitely believe character development is a key element in a story. The more a reader can relate with a character and feel for a character’s journey, the better the book becomes. And this method certainly will help with that!

This book also helped me realize that I’m a Tweener (I always thought myself a straight up Pantser). I do love writing by the seat of my pants. That’s how I get some of my best ideas, but I also know where I’m writing too as well. I have a loose idea of events I need to reach and about where I need those events to happen. Also, I find already knowing my ending is a necessity to writing, even if I don’t know specifics. Just having a good idea of where I need to stop gives me a clear goal to reach for. But after reading Bell’s book I have an even better way to approach my writing. Start in the middle and Pants my way to the beginning and end. I’ll still have those events and goal posts to reach, but I think it will be far easier to get there knowing exactly what the character’s journey should entail.

And you know this book couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve become somewhat stalled on writing the first draft of my second novel. I think this technique will get things churning quite nicely. Thanks Bell. 🙂


How to Write Nonfiction

You have found a topic you want to write on, but aren’t quite sure how to proceed next. You probably already know that nonfiction writing is essentially the organization of facts into a complete piece that presents those facts to a reader. But how can you do it so that it makes sense and is something that’s interesting to read?  Here are five steps to get those facts from head to page, and dazzle the reader with your repository of knowledge.

1. Decide on the Type of Piece
Know beforehand what type of piece you are writing so that you know the length to complete. Are you writing an article, a blog series or a book?  You don’t want to end up writing more than you need or not having enough material to finish your project; though, sometimes after you start a project your accumulated information may go beyond expectations or fall short, then you will have to reconsider what the end product should to be. A piece you might have originally decided would go best in a blog series might actually work better as an article and vice versa. You may even discover that there is so much to tell about a specific topic that it could fill a book.
2. Outline
Organization is elemental to writing good nonfiction. You cannot have good comprehensive nonfiction without it, so get those thoughts in order. You can do this on paper or even in your head, as long as it is clear that you know what you are going to do and where you are going to go. Decide the best possible way to reveal the information to get your point across.
3. Research
After you’ve decided how to present your piece, then you need to decide if it requires information you don’t have. Sometimes when you sit down to write on a topic, your knowledge may have gaps that need to be filled. This is when research is paramount to make sure that your facts are straight and that you know what you are talking about. There’s nothing worse than a reader pointing out that your facts are wrong.
4. Write the Piece
Now that you have an idea of what you want to do, an outline to work from, and all your facts lined up in a row, it’s time to write your piece of nonfiction. This part can be a little challenging because knowing about something and writing about it, in a way that grabs a reader’s interest, are two completely different things.
This is when you should give your story a voice. What do I mean by voice? I mean it needs a unique tone, something that sets it apart from the pack. But mostly it just needs to be interesting to read. If you let passion flow through your words as you write, chances are it’s going to stand up to sing loud and clear for all to hear.
5. Review and Rewrite
This is the most tedious part of writing, but also one of the most important. Don’t forget to review and do as many rewrites as necessary to get your work to its sparkling finish. Find those typos and make sure you have a piece that is strong. Get someone else to do a read-through if you are uncertain. You never know who might be reading your work, so put your best foot forward and make your reader more intelligent for reading what you write. They’ll appreciate it and may even come back for more.
This information is also posted on as a non-exclusive article.

Have you wondered if nonfiction contains plot? Then check out my blog post Does Nonfiction Have Plot to find out.