Many stories pass through eight stages:
The starting point (“stasis”).
An inciting event (“trigger”).
The central character’s search for an answer, an object or a person (“quest”).
A succession of obstacles preventing the character from achieving their aim (“surprise”).
Decisions the character makes (“critical choice”).
The consequences of the choices (“climax”).
Consequences of climax (“reversal”).
Aftermath/New Stasis (“resolution”).
I’ve reached a critical point in the draft of my latest novel Silent, a psychological thriller set on the Yorkshire/Lancashire borders of UK – the dramatic peak and where to take it in terms of story content. Some creative writing instructors refer to this stage of the story as the Critical Choice, as the character has to make a choice that will determine the outcome of the quest. Whatever the case, I’ve been finding the remaining third of the story difficult to shape.
Silent falls somewhere in between the crossover between teen fiction and adult thriller/Young Adult. Gavin (18), a classical musician on a prestigious summer school piano course, has got involved with a girl on the course, but has quickly realised the girl’s playing mind games with him. Nevertheless, he continues in the relationship, thinking he can help the girl. Meanwhile, events in the surrounding village spiral out of control. The village has a tragic history, including an unsolved serious crime.
‘You owe me a train ticket.’
I thought I heard footsteps, then the lights in the main hall went out, and a pair of hands gripped me around the waist, travelling up to cover my eyes. A knee lodged in my kidney, forcing me back, and I found myself half-falling, half thrashing out in self-defence. Shit, he was crazy, far more so than I’d ever anticipated. Totally crazy. Dangerous. I tried stamping on his foot, but he seemed to sense the intended move, and anyway, he had me in an awkward position that prevented me from lifting my foot high. No good. I couldn’t do the equivalent of playing dead either: pretend to relax, twist into the lock and force him to release me that way. My only option was to try to protect my head and eyes. Crucial. Yet, I couldn’t even move my arms. Powerless. Like waking up in the middle of a night terror when you can’t move any part of your body. While this was all happening, I realised that there was no one else around. The others had gone off somewhere. Supposing he had a knife. I’d only just turned eighteen. I would die, just like he’d threatened several times in the last couple of days.
The grip tightened, and another thought struck…supposing this wasn’t him, but the other guy.
Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book.
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