Each Scene Has One (Holly Schindler)

 A turning point, that is. 

When I'm outlining, I start by deciding on the main turning points that occur in every novel (the midpoint, the inciting event, the dark night of the soul...) But one of the biggest early-on mistakes I made as a writer was in focusing solely on how to get from one major turning point to another. Chapters in-between were simply building blocks to get to the next turning point. 

The thing is, that doesn't keep readers reading. What keeps a reader glued are the tiny moments where they whisper, "WHAT?" before checking how many pages are in the next chapter and saying, "Well, just one more before I call it quits for the night."

The little turning points--tiny unexpected moments for the protag (and, as a result, the reader) are the true fuel of the story. And they can (and, arguably, should) occur in every scene in your story.

But what can these turning points consist of? 

Start, always, with what your protagonist wants in this scene. Pull back from the big picture. What is the goal in this specific moment? Will the protag be successful (kinda dull), or will they find out something new? Will they find out they were mistaken about their closest ally? Find out something surprising about the antagonist? Will their goal be thwarted? Will they decide to abandon this current goal for something else? Will they be hurt emotionally? Physically? 

What is different at the end end of the scene? What has changed? 

Those kinds of moments make for great turning points. 

And those turning points keep the pages turning. 


Holly Schindler is the author of the YA A Blue So Dark.


  1. Great advice! I too tend to focus on the big turning points instead of looking at the book chapter by chapter, or scene by scene.


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