I knew I wasn’t John McPhee.

I have no idea what my first sentence is going to be, or the last.  The MMP-1 is taking shape from the middle section outward.  Its shape is an hourglass.

At this point, I’m not sure what I have said about it here and what has been in comments at the spring writing group’s sites, but sometime in January, I believe, I meant to write 3-4 sentences to place-hold an idea for later and wound up with nearly 900 words.  I sat with them for awhile, and decided they were the center section of MMP-1.  Knowing that, I knew what would be in the first part of MMP-1, and what would be in the third part.

Then I took a wild guess at proportions.  The middle section looked like being 3-5 paragraphs, so let’s just say 3 paragraphs each of introduction and conclusion, and 12 paragraphs each of parts I and III.  I listed the topics that seemed to belong in parts I and III, winding up with 10 for one and 11 for the other.  I wrote topic sentences for each topic, a few here, a few there.

So now I have an outline with a well-developed center section, which I gave to a real-life reader yesterday.  It’s possible that some paragraphs will subdivide or combine in the process of writing, but I’m used to that, and I am happy with the frame I have constructed.  I think this will work well.

Anyway, work on this has been one reason I haven’t been posting much lately.  I’ve been very focused on writing, even though most of the work has been thinking and I have little to report in the way of word count.  Writing 3-4 sentences on a good day doesn’t sound like a lot.  But if they’re the right sentences, they get me a long way.

I’d like to know what the intro and conclusion will look like, but since this piece has grown from the middle, I figure the opening and closing will be the last things I write, this time.

As McPhee says, though, every piece is new; there’s no square 2, just square 1 squared and cubed, so maybe someday I will write an essay that starts from its first sentence.

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4 thoughts on “Working out from the middle

  1. This is how scientific papers are most commonly constructed, and how I teach students to write, from the middle out!

    1. The MMP morphed into 3 pieces, sometime back. This is probably discussed in a writing-group comment rather than here. You can find the original definition of the MMP if you search the blog.

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