Friday, August 5, 2011

Start in the Middle

Start in the middle...

And see how it fits together.

I pulled a Stephenie Meyer and started writing a dark paranormal romance based on a dream.

It's not about vampires, and my MC isn't in high school. But there's one other similarity between Twilight and my WIP:

I started writing in the middle. 

Remember how Stephenie Meyer dreamed up that delicious meadow scene about a boy and a girl having an intense conversation: how they shouldn't be together because he wanted to kill her?

It didn't make sense as a beginning because the reader would have no idea how they met, how their romance developed to the point where this was even an issue. And it would have been hard to believe they had time to develop a romance before he just gave in to temptation and ate her.

So Meyer had to write a new beginning that met up with the meadow scene, one that made you WANT them to be together. 

It's an intriguing concept, writing the main conflict first. When we dream, our minds take us through stories, but beginning, middle, and end aren't as crisp as a novel. Often, we're thrown right into the dark hallway, running for our lives. Our minds fill in the details later: drug dealers chasing us because they think we have their designer drug, a monster who wants to eat our faces off, whatever it is.

In other words, you take off running and catch up with yourself later. There's a writing philosophy in there somewhere. And I think I want to embrace it and give it passionate kisses, because it's helped me to write almost a complete novel in a month without forcing it.

I'm still working on connecting the new beginning to the middle-beginning. My dream gave me the main conflict - a creepy, bone-chilling conflict. But it didn't give me any backstory. That was for me to fill in. Getting to know the girl in my dream (who isn't me but I wouldn't mind it during those steamy scenes), and getting to know the villain who's chasing her - it's been an exciting adventure.

Sure, there have been a few bumps, times when the new backstory rendered a shocking revelation in the second half obsolete. But it's just your typical first draft plot holes, things you face no matter what you write first.

My main take-away from this experience has been this: When I write first the scene that's screaming to be written, it makes the rest worth writing.

Wishing I'd tried this sooner.

What do you think? Midnight craziness on my part or is there something to this?


  1. I think there's definitely something to this. I'm always scared to do it though, because I worry that if I skip to the climax (or the 'exciting part') I'll never get back to the backstory and build up. I've had to promise myself to write in sequential order, because I'm a little ADD that way. Then again, my story's already outlined, so it's a little different :)

    I'm so excited for you! I can't wait to read the awesome result!! Everything I've read so far is just awesome!!

  2. Tiffany, Thanks for the encouragement!!

    I have this endless battle with myself -to outline or not to outline. I always end up doing some kind of prep, usually lists and some research and I put that in a notes folder. But when I try to put it into an actual sequential outline, I have such a hard time envisioning it. I think that's because writing is so subtle in the way we weave a story. Even when I outline, tidbits crop up along the way that derail my story!

    Starting in the middle has ALMOST solved that problem for me. There are still a few rogue tidbits that want to work their way into my chapters, but I already have a feel for what the book IS since I wrote from the middle to the climax. That's helped me a ton while writing Lucy's story.

  3. :) I think it's definitely possible -- even great -- to start in the middle and work your way through discovering the backstory and the ending. I'm one of those writers who have to write linearly; but when I get an idea, it's usually the middle of a story. I'd brainstorm until I get a good grip on the backstory before I start writing, but I think writing from the middle is a wonderful thing as well.

  4. I don't usually start writing in the middle but when a story first comes into my thoughts it's usually that tense story-setting scene I imagine.

  5. I always think of the opening scene first! Which can be really hard, because then I've got to figure out the conflict.

  6. Emy, it sounds like you have a great system! I try to imagine the backstory before I write, but in the end, the writing itself reveals more about my characters' lives. That might just be me being undisciplined and not sticking to the script. LOL.

    Susan, yay for tense story-setting scenes!! Not everybody has them. Some of us have to go back later and add one in. (That's usually me.)

    Anne, that's always my problem! If I start at the beginning, it seems even harder to figure out huge important plot points. I think that's why starting in the middle appealed so much to me.

    Thank you, ladies, for your feedback on this! It's fascinating to learn how writers write. We each have slightly different challenges. :)


Speak up! You will be heard...or read.