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The Mirror Moment Method by James Scott Bell

The Mirror Moment Outlining Method

The Mirror Moment Outlining Method

Overview of The Mirror Moment Method

The Mirro Moment Method was pioneered by best-selling author James Scott Bell. He talks about this method of structuring and outlining your novel in-depth in his books Write Your Novel From the Middle and Super Structure

The premise of outlining your novel using the Mirror Moment Method is that you essentially start with the mid-point of your story.

The theory is this “Mirror Moment” is the emotional epicenter of your story holding the deepest connection to the theme of your story as well as the strongest insight into your character’s make up.

Using the point in the novel where your character learns something that will ultimately help him on his quest but also where he starts his transformation.

Pros and Cons to The Mirror Moment Method


  • Really simple to understand
  • Allows you to get to the emotional center of your story and give it an emotional edge
  • Plays very well with other outlining methods, you can combine this with methods like The Plot Point method to help fill in gaps between the methods
  • This is the part of the story that stalls for a lot of writers and by starting here it may help cut down on the potential for the dreaded meandering middle of a novel.


  • Starting your outline from the middle or the “Mirror Moment” doesn’t come naturally for most people and it may take some time to get used to.
  • You still need to have a clear story structure or outlining process in mind to take that emotional epicenter moment to expand it outward in each direction.

Step by Step Guide to Outlining with the Mirror Moment

Here is how to outline your novel using the Mirror Moment Method.

Step 1:  Let’s clearly Define the “Mirror Moment“.  The “Mirror Moment” considers the midpoint of your novel, not a specific scene but a particular moment in that scene where your lead character looks inwards at themselves and asks the big questions like:

  • Who Am I?
  • Who have I become?
  • Who am I supposed to be?
  • Who do I want to be?

A classic example often used is in the movie Casablanca. The “Mirror Moment” happens when Ilsa visits Rick and explains why she left him. He’s drunk, basically calls her a strumpet, she leaves crying and he buries his head in his hands.

From this Mirror Moment on, the rest of the movie is spent finding out what kind of man Rick will become.

So, Step 1 of outlining with the Mirror Moment is by far the most important step in the entire process.

Figure out your lead character’s mirror moment:

  • What is the circumstance?
  • What is the character’s current mental state?
  • How is he presently defined by his actions and image?
  • How does that compare to who they actually want to be perceived or how they perceive themselves?

The Mirror moment can be when the character realizes that the odds are so greatly stacked against him/her that they will most likely invetiably face failure and/or death and more specifically how they consiously decide to proceed in the face of those odds.

Step 2: 

Once you have a clear Mirror moment in mind for your lead character it should clarify all other aspects of your character’s journey.

This will ensure that your writing is more organic and congruent.

Pick a preferred story structure and outlining method- like the 3 act story structure or plot point Method previously and apply the following litmus test to each of your key plot points, do they lead up to the mirror moment, and apply the reverse on the other side of the mirror. Does your story build on the mirror point to answer the questions your character asked themselves while looking inward during the Mirror moment?


If you are looking to use the outline templates, you can do so more easily by downloading our free Scrivener Templates Below.

Note: You will need Scrivener to use it. If you don’t have Scrivener you can Get Scrivener Here.

Or find out Why Scrivener is the Best Writing Software for Writers Here.