Decisions, Decisions . . .

Hello everyone Casey Wyatt here. Another Friday has arrived! Last week I shared my worksheet for goal, motivation, and conflict (GMC).This week, I’d like to talk about turning points.

But first – ****Alert**** Adult language is used in this post. Consider yourself warned! 

Turning points are decisions/situations that change the course of your character’s life. Just like in the real world, your characters should face circumstance that will force them to take action or make choices they never would have otherwise.

Part of crafting turning points is knowing your characters GMC and fitting it into the overall plot. If your heroine’s is coasting through life with as little drama as possible, you know what you have to do to her, right?

Shake her world up.

For example, in The Undead Space Initiative, when the story starts, Cherry is comfortable in her current life. Sure, she’s a vampire bound to her sire and family, but other than complain about freedom, she is not really doing anything to achieve that goal.

She will stay in her comfort zone, until the moment she’s walking to her car and comes across this situation in a nearby alleyway:

I whistled a tune. The song died on my lips. A sweet, musty odor, like grave dirt mixed with lilies stopped my feet. I scanned the area. Suddenly, I wasn’t the biggest, baddest thing on the block.

Revenants.

They always traveled in packs. Enough of them could take me down. Revenants were cousins to vampires, undead beings with too much spirit. Essentially ghosts with physical reality.

I picked up the pace, steering toward the middle of the street and well away from dark corners. If I had a heart rate, it would have been pounding. My blood was rare and prized. One sip and the revenants would keep me alive to serve as a drink dispenser.

I fished through my bag. Where was my cell? Jonathan would come. Provided I could find the damn phone.

Meaty thwacks rang out in the alley as I passed by.

 Do not look.

A soft oomph, followed by a clipped English accent, “Try that again, bastards.”

I looked.

A lone and gorgeous male vampire had been captured. Three revenants had him pinned against the wall. Two held his arms and one pinned his legs. Three more surrounded him like a pack of knife-wielding hyenas.

The vampire snarled. Long fangs bared, presumably pissed off at his capture. With his sculptured physique, he could handle the situation. Right?

None of the baddies had noticed me yet. I could leave.

So, let me break in here. Cherry could have walked the other way at this point. A normal person probably would have (or at the very least called 911). But you know that’s not what’s going to happen right?

If she walked away and drove home:

1. The reader wouldn’t like her too much (and rightly so).

2. The story would pretty much be over or at the very least totally boring. Both offenses that rate tossing the book across the room.

Let’s go back to the alley.

Another punch landed, connecting with the vamp’s mouth. The crack echoed in the alley. Liquid splattered, followed by cruel laughter.

The vampire hottie spat, his lip broken. Blood trickled down his jaw, seeping into the stark white collar of his button down shirt. “Think twice before you cut me, mate. I’ll smash all of your fucking heads in.”

“Shut up, meat.”

One added, “I’m so scared,” before swinging his knife and tearing a gash in the vampire’s chest. The pack laughed. A revenant approached the vampire with IV bags.

Crap-a-roni, now I had to get involved. They planned to bleed him out. That’s what revenants did. They took a vampire’s blood and drained him or her dry. The blood was then sold to the highest revenant bidder. They believed our blood could remove the excess spirit from their bodies, returning them to their true vampire form.

Problem is—it’s a myth. There’s no way for a revenant to become a vampire, any more than I could become a zebra if I wanted to. These guys were zealots. Deranged lunatics.

“This is your last warning, blokes,” Mr. Sexy English accent said. I tried not to shiver at the sound of his rich voice. Heady whiffs of his sweet scented blood drifted my way. Like a fine wine, the smell promised a delicious and satisfying taste. Saliva pooled in my mouth. My fangs dug into my bottom lip.

“Well lookee here!”

Once again, Cherry thinks about leaving but doesn’t. Why? Because she can’t walk away and leave someone in danger. It’s not in her nature. And later, this personality trait plays heavily in the events to come. Right now, it’s too late for her to do anything else but fight.

Perfect!! An unhappy, off balance heroine is what you and your readers want.

In this brief excerpt you should have learned a few things:

  • Cherry cares about others beside herself and even though she was scared, she didn’t walk away.
  • Her life will never be the same.
  • And she just met her hero.

In addition, she has faced the first turning point in the story. This is often refered to as “The call to action”. Events have been set in motion that will change her life and Ian’s.

Like last week, there’s homework. Go to your WIP in progress and document the following:

  • The “call to action” – major turning point number 1.
  • Any additional turning points (where the situation forces a change in behavior or direction of the plot). At least once, the plot should move one step forward and two steps back.
  • And lastly, “the black moment” – when you yank the rug out from under them and leave them (and your reader) believing there is no way they can overcome the obstacle you just chucked in their path.

Gold star time! How did you do? Did you notice anything missing? And remember, an offbalance heroine/hero = a page turning reader.

For additional information check out Michael Hauge’s site and his Six Stage Plot Structure. And hang onto your results. If you have clear turning points, you can use them in your synopsis!

If you have time, stop by my blog – Gone Fishin’ – where I share a few photos of favorite places.

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13 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions . . .”

  1. As always a great post and great information. I’m starting The Undead Space Iniative tonight and I can’t wait. You teased me with your excerpt… now I need to find out what happens next.

  2. Excellent post, Casey. Love the excerpt, although I think “bloke” is an Australian slang. Not sure if the English use it as well. (I know…always the critique partner!) I’m in revisions now and part of that is going back and infusing more “Oh, crap! moments” for my heroine. I was frustrated during my first draft that I hadn’t hit my heroine with enough challenges and that the story was “sagging” in the early stages–even before the typical “sagging middle.” Nothing I can’t edit in:-)

    Those turning points are so essential in keeping the pace of your story action packed and moving forward. Nice job!

    1. I’m glad you liked the excerpt. Bloke is used in England and Australia! And since Ian is several thousand years old, he’s picked up a lot of lingo in his day. And I know what you mean about the sagging beginning. Good luck with your edits. I know you will spin gold!

  3. I would like to send an immediate complaint to the management, Casey. What you seem to be advocating is “abuse of characters!” You want us to send our paper friends into difficult circumstances with no easy way out. Now, it’s true that does make for edge-of-your-seat storytelling and tension that forces readers to gulp down novels during single sittings, but at what cost? Is there no end to what you would put a protagonist through just to sell a few books?

    No. Apparently not!

    I would hate to report you to the IFF (International Fiction Front) or some other frightening series of initials who might take steep action against you and and your so-called 7 Scribes, so I insist that I be allowed to speak to your Publisher or Editor-in-chief immediately—or let’s say in about half an hour, which would give me time to finish up the last two chapters in your “Mystic Ink” novel 🙂

    As always…another spectacular post!

    1. I am guilty as charged Tim! I can’t help but be mean to my poor characters! 🙂 I’m pretty sure that if pulled Zachary Pill aside- he’d have a thing or two to say to you, sir! 🙂 Thanks for stopping. I always love reading your comments, super dude!

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