The Journey to a Bestseller: Essential Scenes in Every Story- Part One- Start With Lack/Inciting Incident/Point of No Return (Series #13)

Happy weekend everybody! I just did the stupidest thing. I had some very important emails from a publisher, and they were getting lost in my overflowing email box. So I made a new folder. Then I put all my important emails from the publisher in them. THEN my email told me that the file couldn’t be made, and all my emails were deleted. They didn’t go back to the box where they were, they just vanished. OMG. I had to write the publisher back and ask for those 7 or 8 emails to be resent. I cannot believe myself sometimes. But I guess we all make mistakes.

Huge Facepalm

That’s actually not the focus of this blog. I started reading my WIP at the beginning to see where I’m at and to do some editing on the way there. I’m really happy with what I have so far. But I want to make sure that it is structured correctly. What I mean is, if your character is going on a hero’s sort of journey, you need to follow the structure of The Hero’s Journey. I’ll be going through it to make sure I hit the plot points with the correct order.

Even if you are just writing what you’d call “basic” fiction, or a different genre, there are still formats that you need to know. I touched on many of them two weeks ago. The one I’ve chosen for this book is by author/promoter Derek Murphy. He calls it the “Plot Dot” and it labels the essential scenes for every novel.

I actually Googled “The Plot Dot” and it’s the first image listed, but I couldn’t copy/paste it for you due to security reasons. So go, copy that down and I will talk about the plot points as we write each week, just follow along. There will be much more info the further we get into the story.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about where we are in the process of building our books… In the beginning of every story, you start with a “lack.” The character has a need for something they don’t have, or they aspire to be somewhere/something else. There is a need that is so big it is causing them to have a hole in their life. In our WIP, called THE CLOCKWORK PEN (for now), the beginning starts with Wyll’s parents telling him that they’re getting a divorce. This causes his “need” to get away from home, to find an adventure. He is feeling reckless.

Without telling too much of the story, he finds a door to a hidden world. He is locked in a grungy basement with only one apparent way out. Up the stairs is a door to somewhere he’s never been. He opens the door and finds an interesting small house. It’s completely decked out in Steampunk. When he sees the new house and decides he wants to stay there and see more, we define the inciting incident. That is the call to adventure. This is the moment his eyes light up and he becomes curious, he wants to know more. He’s “in” for the adventure.

This is the map I made of the world called Sepherra:

I had so much fun making this! I used a free mapmaker online, called Inkarnate.

Wyll soon finds that English is illegal in Sepherra, when he is taken to a small, hidden room and introduced to a pair who are leading a resistance. She’s the only one who speaks English, and explains a plan to leave the hidden city. He’s not interested in helping them get out, he wants to explore and see all the wonderful contraptions. Plus, his friend has the key, so he’s stuck there with them. He wants to explore.

Make sure in between these plot points that you have your character react to the situation. Something big has happened, they need to respond. It causes dips in the action, but that’s what you want. With the next plot point, ratchet up the action and suspense. It should multiply and the problems should get harder to deal with. So don’t worry if you start out small with some minor irritations.

This is the girl (Sira):

I found the illustrations online, on Google. I am happy to credit the artist, but it didn’t come with a tag. Let me know if you know the artist.

At this point, Wyll has no guilt, no stakes in the game. He’s not taking action. He knows that he’s not good for winning any rebellion. He doesn’t even want to leave. He agrees to help the rebellion because, to be honest, she’s kind of cute. Because of the tone in their conversation, he doesn’t get her name, though.

He is told to stay in the room. Tomorrow morning someone will come check on him. He learns that the world is made of clockwork life, and his interest is piqued. He sleeps until he feels refreshed. Then curiosity gets the better of him, and he convinces himself to go explore. The only thing is, he doesn’t expect to meet anyone who wants to talk to him. In running away from a potential “friend,” he knocks over a cart of mechanical kittens and attempts to return them, but is caught by a soldier of sorts. The soldier resembles a mechanical Iron Man.

This is my “soldier” inspiration illustration.

When he is caught, he’s taken to the “Reformatory.” There he meets a living machine that can project you into the middle of your own deepest fears. It’s a personal torture device. He is suddenly glad he doesn’t know the girl’s name or any info because he is ready to roll on anyone and everyone he’s met so far to get out of this hell. One one hand, he hopes they will come rescue him, but he also realizes he should have done what they told him to do in the first place.

We are now at the first “plot point.” The point of no return. He is now part of this world. He’s involved, he has stakes. He now wants to get out as much as they do… or he’s getting there. In the reformatory, he meets the king, who tells him that he made this world for his daughter. She hangs around some people who have a resistance and he has to squash any resistance for her sake, so that she can live a long, happy life in Sepherra and one day rule in his place.

Wyll thinks it sounds like a dream, to be a princess and have whatever you want in a magic kingdom. A place where your dad can design anything you want with his magic pen. What could be wrong with that? The king says he knows his daughter will help break Wyll out, and he instructs Wyll to go with her. He will give them a reason to meet, and then the boy only has to stay with the princess. The man creates with a magic pen, and at that point he pulls the pen out and writes on Wyll’s arm. The ink disappears, but Wyll can feel a small rectangle under his skin that has a faint ticking sound. It’s a tracker.

This is King Rozam:

At this point Wyll only understands Sepherran through a device in his ear, given to him by the girl who used it when she first came to Sepherra. But he cannot speak the language. The king tells him to enjoy his city, but not his daughter, and Wyll doesn’t care because he doesn’t go for prissy princesses anyway. He likes girls like the one he met last night, or two night ago, I don’t know how long he’s stayed. So the king grabs his chin and writes on his neck. It burns and his throat feels like sandpaper. He coughs and hacks, trying to make his throat feel better.

Later, when the girl and the guy show up again to rescue him, he’s happy to see them. He figured the princess would send them anyway, probably doesn’t want to get her hands dirty. The guy, named Indigo (who will be his mentor), understands Wyll and they realize that the tattoo on his throat allows him to be understood. They go back to the room from before and Wyll learns that the girl is the princess the king was talking about. But she says, “I am no princess. My father is not a king. He’s a man with a magic pen, that is slowly going crazy from its power. And I have to stop him.”

The power of the pen is driving the king insane. The more he uses it, the worse he gets. And the bad part is that his mind is connected to the pen and as he loses control, his creations aren’t quite right. They break, or have disabilities. There is only one way in or out of Sepherra. And that door has only two keys, the one Wyll’s friend now has, and the one around the king’s neck. They must get the pen, to either make another key, or make a whole new door that everyone can get out of.

The king made his world fourteen years ago. So, no matter how old the people are, and they appear to be of all ages, they are all really only fourteen. Hence, the rebellion is gathering members more often. More people want to be free of the king, and some have heard of another world, but they don’t know about it for sure.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten with editing. I’ll tell you next week about the next couple of plot points. So, if you’re writing with me, we are back on track! Make sure that your story begins with the character needing something, then have an inciting incident, which leads to the first plot point, the point of no return.

And I finally came up with the new covers for the first two books in my trilogy: The Key of F and The Queen’s Heart. It was through some trial and error, and a few emails and tears. But I think I’ve got good ones now. Those who receive my newsletter this weekend, will get to see the progression of the Cover Wars. I will show the before’s and after’s, and the few in between. So, if you’re interested in that, click on the Welcome page to subscribe! I will be writing it tomorrow, so you have time.

Oh yeah, up to this point in the manuscript, there are 16,824 words. Just so you know how it will break down, I will tell you the word counts as we go. If we end up with too many words, we’ll talk about cutting and revision later. I have a tendency to write the whole thing coming in under the word count, so I can go back and add bits of tension and intrigue. That is easier, in my opinion, than having to cut words that you tried so hard to write.

I write the story somewhat simply the first time. Then, when you know what’s happening, and where the story goes, and you aren’t worried about everything making sense, you can embellish. I love that word. You can embellish to your heart’s content. But make it BIG. Like a movie. See it in your mind as you read it and try to make it bigger, more inclusive, make the reader feel like they are there. One easy way to do that is to notice, or have the characters notice, little things. Tiny inconsistencies, like the glass horse on the shelf, the ticking of her watch as they stare at each other while hiding from the soldiers… details. Try to weave them in here and there, rather than one paragraph of description. I found I’m doing that a bit, but I’m not worried about it yet. I’m still writing.

Well, that’s it for this week. Everyone have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you the next!! Please let me know if you are writing with me. I want to know who’s taking the journey. At the end, when we find out if we made bestsellers or not, I will post all our covers here and have a week to advertise you. So, you’ll get exposure if you travel with me. Go get writing! Even if you start now- you aren’t that far behind. Do you have a story idea? Great. You’ve got a week to catch up. You can do it!

What will I be writing for next week? The first battle. If you are writing ahead, this is where you want to go. It should be the protagonist’s fault that the good guys lose. So push forward!

All my best.


Photo by Pixabay on

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