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Irreversible Plot Points

Here’s something to always keep in mind, no matter if you’re writing picture books or full-blown novels: each plot point in your novel should change the course of events in a permanent way. If you have a lot of plot points where the effect isn’t crystal clear, no decision is made, no characters change, and the trajectory of your story seems to bob along rather than follow a very direct line, your plot points are not absolute enough. In plots like this, your characters could likely revert to exactly who they were at the beginning of the book if they wanted to. That’s a problematic novel, to me. Anchor the forward momentum of your story along plot turning points that divide your tale into a clear “before” and “after” with no going back. This will also help you work on the all-important elements of stakes and tension.

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  1. rick crawford’s avatar

    Great point. No pun intended. Always move the story forward is the rule I think. Every chapter or scene should move the story or the reader will be disinterested.

  2. Diana’s avatar

    Right! Plot isn’t merely a series of events!

  3. Peter Dudley’s avatar

    What would be an example of a reversible plot point? Or should I assume that if it’s reversible, it’s just action, not actually plot?

  4. Kari Cowman’s avatar

    Excellent point, I had a story that I felt lacked action, so I injected action events which gave directives for really great illustrations. They did make the story feel like a string of imaginings, as you would say. I would say the same rule applies to stories as in life, only plot twists that would be memorable years later. We can fill our days with events, but only meaningful times are remembered. As always, thanks for the great advice Mary!

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