Turning Points (By Laurie Faria Stolarz)


Picture this...

        You’ve driving down a road, going about your day. The weather is stable. You aren’t running late. You’ve got the music cranked, and you’re humming along, maybe even dancing in your seat. 

        Things are going well (obviously). You have no complaints, (at least, none worth voicing). You’re even making plans, looking ahead at the next week. 

        The next month… 

        The next year… 

        For things you want to do, a trip you hope to take, a party you’d like to plan… 

        Dinner with your gym friends. A Halloween-themed movie night. What will you buy your sister-in-law for her birthday? Maybe the jewelry store on the corner will have some cute earrings.

        In this moment, the little things seem so big – or maybe just big enough to enjoy pondering about. Should you have pasta or tacos for dinner? Or make chocolate or vanilla pudding for dessert? Should you buy the boring but practical black shoes (on sale) or the teal ones you really love*? The answer to that latter question seems so obvious as you approach the intersection, your green light…

        But then, bam. 

        Crash. You’re hit from the side. 

        Your car spins. Your world does too.


        And round.

        And round you go.

        Will you be okay, by the last revolution? When the car stops?  When the door opens.

        People will tell you, you’re lucky to have survived. But how will you survive the consequences of what happened? Your life just took a sudden turn. Now, how will you deal, as you move forward? And, who will be there to support you? You’ll learn, fairly quickly, who your real friends are. You’ll also learn, fairly quickly, that some angels don’t have wings.

        Stories are like this. The main character goes about his everyday life, before something changes: a challenge is proposed; an offer is made; a deal falls through; the proverbial rug is pulled out from beneath his feet… Or maybe he gets sideswiped by a car - an accident that changes the trajectory of his path.

        The question is: how will that character behave/deal/cope/act in light of that change, or quest, or turn? How does his backstory influence his present-day journey as he moves forward? How does the present-day action help heal something in his past that still needs “fixing?” Or, to put it another way, how does the present-day action enable this character to grow or learn in a way that he truly, uniquely, needs? 

        Whenever I start a new work, I enter with these questions. And, in doing so, I try to tap into my own life’s experiences in order to write authentically. Admittedly, I’ve taken some of my darkest moments, my biggest “car accidents,” and my most valuable lessons and epiphanies (to me, at least), and spun them into stories. In each story, the “character” needs to face a quest or change, head on. And, in doing so, in taking that new road (or turn), his past/backstory will undoubtedly inform his present-day action. It’s in the process of this journey that growth will happen, minor-characters will enter, themes will develop, lessons will be learned, old wounds will heal, and unexpected twists will happen – both in writing as in life. 


* The teal shoes, obviously. Who has time for boring and practical?



  1. I second Jen's comments. This was more real than I might have liked, given that I came within a couple eyelashes of getting hit this morning by an idiot who ran a red light.

  2. I love the metaphor of the car wreck. That's EXACTLY what should happen to your character.


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