Act II / Plotting / Writing

The One Thing that Makes or Breaks a Novel

Our last post focused on the two pillars. They’re the two ends that hold up your second act. If you read it, then you’ll remember I equated it to a blanket fort. The two pillars are the two chairs holding your blanket at the end, but I also don’t want the middle sagging and smacking me in the face every time I look up.

So I put in a tent rod.

Just like that, we are putting a tent rod in to our outline. It’s the single most important piece of a novel, and without it we’re going to end up floundering on the floor trying to find the edge of the blanket and escape. (Oh…just me then?)

An outline’s tent rod is often called a Mirror Moment, or Transformation. I prefer Mirror Moment (MM), because it describes it perfectly.

Ever looked in the mirror and genuinely wondered what the fuck happened to our life? That’s our moment.

The Mirror Moment (MM) is the moment a character looks in the mirror and re-evaluates what they will have to do or change about themselves to move forward and defeat the antagonist.


There are generally two types of MM’s: character-driven and plot-driven. (Yea, we’re back to those evil little buggers)

Character-driven plots have their MC pondering their identity. Who am I? What have I become?

Plot-driven stories have their MC consider what they’re up against and the likelihood of success in the face of it. The antagonist’s forces are so strong, there’s almost no chance they’ll make it out and not face certain death.

And if that doesn’t sum it up, then I don’t know what will. The hard part is determining which one your character is going to come up against, and how you’re going to get there.

Here’s my two cents on the subject:

Remember when I said our job as authors is to torture the people we made the readers fall in love with? Yea, do that.

Torture your MC until they’re a hairs breadth away from breaking. Throw them one obstacle after another. Make each one bigger and badder. Have your character make the wrong choice and have to face the consequences. UP THE STAKES.

And then, right when the MC can’t possibly take anymore, you let them look in the mirror.

This is the moment when the audience is holding their breath. It’s the moment you’ve lined up the shot, squared your shoulders, and planted your feet. It’s the moment just before you release the ball.

It’s the moment you can feel everyone hold their breath.

That’s what you’re aiming for.

Aim well, darlings.

If you’d like to find a copy of Bell’s book for more information, click here.

Like, share, comment.

Keep writing, Lovelies


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


May 9, 2019