Week 1, Days 5-7: Act I Turning Point, Backstory and Plot Holes

Okay, missed a couple of days here, but let’s catch up!

Day five is about your Act I turning point. This is pretty much the drive to your whole book. It is going to be what feeds your Act II turning point, which in turn then feeds the climax in the third act. Remember what your turning point should be functioning as. I tell my students that it is the “point of no return” — you can’t turn back around and erase it. It’s done. And when it is over, your story should be propelling in a new direction. In Book in a Month, Dr. Schmidt has us restate our turning point from our at-a-glance outline, then brainstorm about this turning point, asking such questions as “What is the exact opposite that could happen at the turning point?” and “What would happen if you brought in another character?” (103).

The next one I sort of skipped, since my story is both a retelling and a sequel, so I already pretty much have this done. But, it’s about your backstory. You should make sure that your backstory is balanced — you don’t need to include every little thing in your backstory. Weed out what is important to your plot and to your characters and use that. Schmidt’s worksheet has four columns for this activity: backstory for me, backstory to include, relevance to frontstory, possible scene locations.

Make sure that your first scene isn’t loaded with exposition through info dumps. Intersperse your backstory through dialogue and more creative means. No one wants to read three pages about the beginning of your character’s life when you can find out piece-by-piece throughout the story. It’s more fun that way.

Finally, day seven is about plot holes. God, those darn plot holes. It’s like when you realize you introduced a new character, but then forgot about him/her for about six chapters? Schmidt gives us a checklist of common plot holes to go through and check over. My favorite ones include “Are the characters motivated?” and “Is it clear why the protagonist cares about the goal?” and (just one more!) “Do all the characters have a purpose for being there?” (110).

That means we should be at the end of week 1! We made it! Just three more weeks to go!

My personal word count goal is 2k a day, which means I should have 14k words finished — and I don’t. But, that’s okay. Remember not to be negative. I didn’t get it done this week, but I can get it done next week, and so can you!