Monday, October 10, 2016

The Protagonist's Decision-Making-Ultimatum Scene

Here I am editing my book for the 3rd time. Seems like a lot, right? Well, the first time was like a wicked draft. Then I sent it to my awesome beta team, spurring round two of revisions. But, as I was finishing up the edit, yes that means I completed round 2 with a Hallelujah victory dance, I noticed something was missing right at the last chapter that would rock the socks of the entire book. But...figured it out at the LAST chapter.

Of all chapters!!!

I went back into the story, marched through out the book to add and modify to said thing, and came across a scene in Chapter 3 where my MC, Cindy, slightly contemplates her future and what she should do about it.

Slightly contemplates? What is this crap?

Isn't this the truth? Love it!!

A protagonist can't kinda make a decision about their future like that! It has to be the DO-OR-DIE MOMENT!!! Every book has it.

Here are a few I can think of right off the bat:
1. Hunger Games - Katniss - volunteer, or not, to protect sister
2. An Ember in the Ashes - Leia goes undercover, or not, to save brother
3. Six of Crows - the crew maneuvers a heist, or not, to gain riches

Without the decision-making-ultimatum scene, the story is nothing. Nothing! I mean, it's something, but never truly defined as to what they are aiming for, their end goal, or quite literally what drives the character(s) or the story itself. Imagine if Katniss crumbled and just let her sister go to the games. Well, we'd have no story. Unless we want to hear Katniss being upset about her decision for 300 pages. Uh, no thank you.

My realization that Cindy has to make a choice, a choice I know, but the readers need to see in black and white, was totally my ah-ha! moment. How did I miss that? I'm guessing I was so wrapped up in the secondary story, I missed what was driving the first. And that's not okay. I personally thank the Heavens for inspiring my ah-ha! moment.

1. Are you incorporating the do-or-die moments in your novels, too?
2. Tell me one from a book you've read.


Reading: Cold Betrayal by J.A. Jance and I like You Just Fine When You're Not Around by Ann Wertz Garvin
Cool thing that happened: I went to my 1st book signing, here on our little island, and met J.A. Jance who is so funny!! Her humor is crudely clean. If that makes sense.
Looking forward to: My first Writer's Retreat! Right here on the next island over at the end of the month for 3 days.
My favorite candle smell today: Farm Apple Pumpkin by Better Homes. It's like apple and pumpkin spice pie had a baby.


S.A. Larsenッ said...

You know what? Sometimes that's what it takes to transform a good story into a great one - that idea, that notice after the story has been edited a few times and is in much better shape than when first written. We need to get the 'other stuff' out of the way to see that. Lots of times we don't see it. So glad you did. I'm sure all the work will be worth it and the story will be amazing!

I do incorporate those major decision-making moments in my stories. Sometimes they aren't as obvious as others, but they are there to push the character to grow.

Pat Hatt said...

Always great when that one idea pops in to make it even better. The do or die I throw in there many a time, really helps indeed.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Funny enough this reminds me of a character from one of my unfinished manuscripts. He was a revenge angel helping a soul find the source of her death so she could send it to hell before her time was up and the contract sent her to hell instead. She kept veering off wanting to after other people who were somehow involved. But he kept reminding her to stay on course and find the source. Talk about an internal editor!

Congrats Tammy on figuring how to make a good story great. All the best.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

At least you caught it. The character needs to control and drive the story, not the other way around.

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

Isn't it freaky how you can read the sucker a few times and then see something so blatant that needs fixing? It's amazing.

Elephant's Child said...

Sometimes I think the author is too close to the work to realise that the important pivot is in their head, not on the page. Hooray for beta readers. And editors.
And to you for catching it before it was too late.

The Silver Fox said...

Great that you caught this when you did. Good work!

Mark Noce said...

The more edits the better:) It'll make your book shine! I don't even keep track of how many drafts I go probably wouldn't be good for my mental health;)

S.P. Bowers said...

You've got to have those moments, otherwise the character is too blah for readers to stick around with. We like people who know what they want, even if they mess up or do stupid things along the way, as long as they're trying and working towards a goal it's all good. Off to check my own wishy washy first draft.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I don't know of any of my books that worked the first time. They always take a huge amount of edits to get them where I want them. I think you're on the right track!

M said...

1. I try to. I dismantled and rewrote the entire back end of Manifesting Destiny for that reason, and I think the final product is much stronger than the original draft.

2. I'm drawing a blank on things I've recently read. Which probably means I should read better books since none of them seem to be memorable lately.