The inciting incident, the first plot point, the midpoint, the second turning point, the climax – these scenes are the skeleton of your novel. Everything rests on these. Or I guess I should say hangs.
- First turning point: At the end of Act I.
- Midpoint: Middle of Act II or smack dab in the center of your novel.
- Second turning point: At the end of Act II.
These scenes seem to be pretty important. But how do we make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. And what the heck are they supposed to do?
Here’s what we know about them in a shallow, superficial kind of way:
- After a plot point, the game should change.
- The story heads in a new direction.
- We should learn new information, secrets revealed, or a disaster happens – something that moves the story forward.
- The main character, faced with a decision, moves forward and eventually deals with the consequences of her choice.
- The reader should get excited, grip the book tighter, and start flipping pages – reading every word, of course.
- The event should be big enough that if looking for it the reader can easily pick it out, but written well enough and blended with previous scenes so that it doesn’t stick out. Total contradiction, I know.
- As Donald Maass says – go BIG!
That covers the basics. I’m sure you could add to it. But let’s dig deeper. These scenes hold incredible power in your book and are one of the reasons readers either fall in love or walk away saying, “Eh.”
Digging into the dark, muddy waters of plot points.
- It’s not just about the action/event. It’s about what’s going on inside the head and heart of your character – technically, the internal arc.
- Show the main character making a decision, but don’t just have her make it and move on.
- Show the doubts. Your character should be conflicted.
- Show the emotion and rationale behind the decision.
- Show the risk she’s taking and the reason she makes the decision despite these risks.
- In the preceding scenes, show the main character experiencing life in a way that when she/he makes the big decision, despite the risks, the reader understands. This will make it believable.
- During the plot point, show the internal thoughts.
- Show the visceral response using strong verbs and nouns and the five senses.
- Use original, specific phrasing. Get rid of the blah.
More than anything you want your reader to connect with your character during these plot points. What I’m trying to say is it’s all about believable emotion.
Use and abuse these plot points, the scenes preceding them, and the scenes after them to endear your reader to your character. Go for it!
So, what’d I miss? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? (Okay, so you know what decade I was in high school. Big deal.)