Saturday, June 09, 2012

Story Structure -- The Decision

Hi, folks. I'm writing a series about story structure, and I'm touching base with the five turning points that I find essential. Last week I chatted about the moment when everything changes. This week I'm going to discuss the next essential turning point in the plot and  I call it "the decision."  This plot point is the protagonist's reaction to "the moment."  The decision has to have high stakes. It must be a difficult decision for your character make but the only one too. It should launch your main character out of his humdrum life. His decision must have a specific goal and require lots of action. His decision also marks a new direction -- he will face challenges that he would have never faced without this decision. Generally, this decision should be made around chapter 3 to 5 for most books. There is always some leeway with where the decision hits, but it must hit. The decision should showcase the strengths and flaws of your character.

Here is how the decision works by a few genres. In a mystery, a murder has occurred (the moment) and the main character decides to solve the mystery for whatever reason and sets out on a journey to do just that. In a romance, the gal meets a hot guy (the moment) and she makes decision to help the guy with some hare-brained plan or her decision will force her to spend lots of time with the guy -- like she'll go to band camp with him, she'll partner him in science class, or support her sister's bid to hook up with his best friend -- you know, whatever forces them to hang out together. In an adventure,  the main character has the chance to leave dull Boringsville and decides to go for whatever reason -- to climb Everest, take that rocket to Mars, or defeat a secret society that is taking out world leaders.

Sift around your work-in-progress and identify your main character's decision. Can you improve it? Up the stakes? Make it clearer? Do it! I hope your work grows in leaps and bounds this summer. See you next week. :)

Here is this week's doodle: "Baby Jube."

Here is a quote for your pocket:

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. Maya Angelou


Vijaya said...

Is that your baby? What a sweetie! What's she up to nowadays?

I find in my stories that my protagonist are all reluctant answer-the-callers. I suppose that reflects who I am ... but I think it's part of story structure too. We never want the status quo to change and resist until we simply cannot anymore.

MollyMom103 said...

Hi Vijaya, Jubilee attends a college in Houston. She's studying accounting. She is peachy for sure.

I write about caretakers. I think. Some are reluctant; some are not. Depends.

I hear you about that resistance. I think so many feel exactly the same way.

I think you are right about the decision not being an easy one. It has to be one of the hardest the character has ever made.