Starting From the Middle

You know how a plot line is supposed to go: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. That whole curve thing you learned in your very first English Composition class. But what if you change it up? What if you don’t start your story with a long winded explanation of who the characters are and what the setting is, all that vital but boring to readers who don’t yet care about the characters? What if you start in the middle?

What is the middle of a story? The climax, of course! This is where everything comes to a head. It is the most exciting, action-packed part of the whole story. This is what readers love to read, what they wait the whole book for and love to see resolved. Why make them wait? Why not just start your book off at the climax?

What do I mean by that? I mean, start with action. Throw characters in there that the reader is completely unfamiliar with. Put them in a situation so terrible and complex and inescapable that the reader wonders not only how they are going to get out of it, but how they ever got into that mess in the first place.

But then, you ask, how will the rest of my story go? I just gave away the best part! Well… yes and no. Don’t give them the whole climax. Just a taste. A nibble. A little bait to get them hooked and then, POW, you are set to go. The hardest part of selling any book is getting the readers interested. What better way than to start with page one already drawing them in?

Once you’ve got them wondering who these characters are and how they got to that point, you can send them back to the beginning and exposit all you want because now they CARE. They care about these people and, like being shown a murder and then trying to find the killer, people love trying to unwrap a mystery. How did they get there? How will they get out? What traits or talents allowed them to get to that point?

You see, I’ve already got you excited to read and I haven’t even written anything yet! This is a big change from classic fiction, yes, but in an era of sound bites and special effects, books need to kick it up a notch. People aren’t stupid; they just have short attention spans and a lot to do. Hook them and then reel them in.

Guest post by Christine Kane, a graduate of Communication and Journalism. She enjoys writing about a wide-variety of subjects including internet providers in my area for different blogs. She can be reached via email at: Christi.Kane00 AT gmail DOT com


  1. A really thoughtful post. I'll link to it over at my blog, if you don't mind.


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