May 20, 2016

Turning Points

A few weeks ago, I talked about turning points at the New England SCBWI spring conference.

The main point was this: As you write (especially a first draft), you may not know everything about how your story will unfold, but you DO know some things.

For example, you may know:

Who your protagonist is

What he/she wants

Who the main antagonist is

What obstacles will get thrown in the way...

Maybe you know the initial premise, and how your story will end. (When I started my first draft of Jump the Cracks, that's all I knew.)

But the thing is, you don't have to know your whole story to start writing. You only have to know ONE thing about your story, and you can write your way to that point. Or write THAT scene: the one you KNOW will have to happen at some point in your story.

Then, fill in the blanks as you go. Because once you write SOMETHING, other things will become apparent to you, and then you can write THOSE things.

It's a lot like walking through the woods. There may be several possible paths, but once you decide you are hiking the blue trail and not the orange trail, that's a start. You walk along, watching for the next blue blaze. And when you get there, you know you have to look for the NEXT blue blaze.

Writing is so similar. Write a scene--ANY scene--that you KNOW has to happen in your book. Then think about another thing that will HAVE to happen as a result...and write that. Repeat.

Look for the blazes. You can write a whole book that way, or at least a good underlying structure.

Happy trails!