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What is the Midpoint Mirror Moment? (And Why Is It So Important for Plotting Your Novel?)

novel writing midpoint mirror moment

Today, I want to talk about the Midpoint Mirror Moment, a facet of novel plotting that TOTALLY changed the way I outline. Now, in this post, I reference the elements of plot structure from my previous post, Plotting In a Pinch: A Quick Guide to Plotting Your Novel. It might be helpful to read that blog first, if you’re unfamiliar!

When editing your novel, there is nothing so helpful as getting a good, firm grip on the central story you’re telling, the character’s emotional arc, the thruline this book is meant to be about. You want a book with a satisfying connection between the beginning, middle, and end. But how do you go about achieving that?

I bring you: The Midpoint Mirror Moment.

What Is The Midpoint Mirror Moment?

The idea behind the Midpoint Mirror Moment is simple: it’s a moment — sometimes a scene, a whole chapter, or even a couple of sentences — in which your character takes a mental step back and reflects on where they are and what they have done. The main character asks themselves some combination of the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Who am I supposed to be?
  • What have I done?
  • What am I supposed to do now?

Think of this as a refueling, recharging moment for your protagonist — a turning point in their character arc. The trajectory they’ve been on since Act One’s Trigger has, in some way, not been working out so well. Act Two’s Mini Climax hit them like a ton of bricks, and they’re starting to realize (but still resist the notion) that stubbornly following their false belief is leading them into trouble time and time again.

So, they take a moment. They reflect. They break down and look in a figurative mirror at the person they’ve become.

A moment of self reflection that ignites your character’s agency

This self-reflection then fuels the Charge, the stretch of your story in which your character takes the bull by the horns and makes their own decisions. (Decisions that ultimately go awry and land them in their Dark Night of the Soul, to be fair — but, hey, we’re not going to use that against them, are we?)

The Midpoint Mirror Moment is an emotional state directly in between their Chapter One beginning state and their end state, where they’ve cast aside their false belief and completed their story arc. The Midpoint Mirror is the transition between these two extremes.

Use the Midpoint Mirror to Plot Your Novel

Figuring out the midpoint moment of self-reflection can help you focus your character’s arc over the course of your novel. Knowing the circumstances of your self-reflective breakdown can tell you where your character needs to end up and, therefore, what state of mind they need be in during the beginning of your novel.

The Midpoint Mirror should be 50% of the way through the novel, and should represent the turn from the road the character was on, towards the road they will eventually end up.

So, study up on that Midpoint Mirror! It’s endlessly helpful, and you just mind find it makes the difference between a meandering plot and one that’s satisfyingly focused.

Happy Writing.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Emily @ Mixed Margins

    Super helpful. I had never heard of this before, but all I could think about while reading was the point in The Lion King where Simba shouts, “You said you’d always be there for me! But you’re not.” at the sky, then chases Rafiki, looks into his reflection, and is told, “He lives in you.” Then right after that, Simba runs back to the Pride Lands to challenge Scar.

    Anyway, this is going to really help me link the two parts of my story. Thank you SO MUCH.

    August 7, 2017 at 3:45 pm
    • Reply happywriter

      Yes! Exactly! It’s the moment that compels the main character to stop letting things happen to them and start making things happen for themselves. It totally unlocked the WIP I was struggling with, I hope it’ll help you the same way!!

      August 7, 2017 at 5:08 pm

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