This week, I reached the negative turning point of my story. The protagonist is embedded within the new story world. He’s been called to action, thwarted at every turn, and the stakes have been raised in nearly every scene. There are several subplots underway, and plenty of clues and misdirection in place. The actors have been assigned their roles, and there are good guys that can’t be trusted and bad guys that don’t seem all that bad yet. I’ve completed a couple of battle scenes and the protagonist’s goals have changed from external to personal. He is set on his mission, determined to succeed at any cost.
Yesterday I wrote the scene where everything fell apart and the worst has come to pass; the bad guy (or one of them) has won. The protagonist is trapped, and it’s too late now to make the choices that he’d put off making earlier. He’s all alone, cut off from all help. No one wants him, and no one is going to go looking for him. His love interest and friends are in dire straits, and he is helpless to do anything about it. He knows the secret, but it’s too late. He’s going to have to scuttle off under a rock somewhere and lick his wounds. And he’s going to need help.
As I started fleshing out the next scene, I realized I have a lot of ways to go with this story right now. As I’ve begun to live in the story world and immerse myself in these characters and motivations, I’ve been careful to keep my options open. In fact, until yesterday, I hadn’t decided which of my main characters were in on the dark secret or not. If they know, then they’re bad guys. If they don’t they’re good guys. The timeline of the story has become more important. Do I want to rush things in order to engage certain character face-offs that are only possible by adhering to the timeline, or throw the timeline out and open a completely different path to the story resolution?
Today I’m taking a day off to brainstorm alternative ways for my hero to come back from the breech. Poor guy. It’s going to be a long and painful road back. Oh what fun we’ll have!