Hi folks, I'm continuing my series about the five essential turning points in novels. This week I've covering the center point. Many call the center point, the point of no return. Some call it the tent pole. I must confess I have gotten a better handle on this turning point in novels because of e-reader technology.
When I had read about 100 books on my e-reader, I had an ah-ha moment. E-readers have some nifty features, and one is keeping tabs on the percentage of the book you have completed. I started noticing that if something didn't turn in a novel at the 50% percent page, I would get antsy. I might even stop reading the book. My writer self perked up at this. I began to analyze what was going on, and I learned a thing or two. Here goes.
The center point is certainly a point of no return. The character can never return: she can never home, she can never be a person that has not loved, she can never return to a place of safety after this point, etc. So the center point plunges the main character into consequences. If she doesn't figure this out, i.e. find a solution, she will never have a family or home again, she is going to suffer forever from a broken heart, or she is going to die.
This center point is also another decision point for the character. I have noticed this can work two ways: an event leads to a decision or a decision leads to events. (I'm not sure if these two are the only ways to make a decision at center point, just the two I've noticed.) In one case, a gal might have been at odds with a totally annoying guy for the first half of the book, but then the totally annoying guy saves the gal from mega-embarrassment at the mid-point. Ah, the gal has been wrong, this totally annoying guy is really a habenero hottie. So "the saving" was the event, and she changed her opinion about totally annoying guy. Ah, I think they might fall in love...
Here's the other way the decision at the center point can work. A loser guy travels really far to get a ring of ultimate power to the safety of the magical elf city, and that's what he signed up for. The ring needs to be carried on to the volcano to be destroyed, but this loser guy is done. He's dumping the ring with the elf king and going home! Let everyone argue about what happens next, he thinks, but dang it, none of the bozos in the elf city seem to be capable of carrying the ring to the volcano. No one expects him, loser guy, to step up, but he did get the ring to the elf city, and, heck, that was hard. So loser guy makes a decision and steps up for second half of the journey that will be a million times harder than the first half! I think loser guy needs a name change to hero. Yay!
In everybody’s life there’s a point of no return. And in a very few cases, a point where you can’t go forward anymore. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That’s how we survive. Haruki Murakami