Wednesday 4 November 2015

Standing at the crossroads?

When something that has been a fixture in your life for a long time suddenly changes - as has recently happened to me - it can be a catalyst for a re-examination of goals, lifestyle, etc. And, of course, it is exactly the sort of situation that writers love most. The kicking off point for the story. Catching your character at a point of change. Which got me thinking, as you do, about some of those classic change points. And I made a list:-

Loss - a loved one, a job, a home.

Gain - a dream job, a new relationship, the birth of a baby, a legacy. Silver linings that might just have a cloud attached.

Rites of passage - leaving home, a significant birthday, marriage, divorce.

Threat - now, in the kind of books I like to write, that's likely to be the ominous phone call, a visit from a stranger, a violent incident, but it can also be something like illness or accident.

A mystery - a letter from the past, a tin box in the attic full of family papers, a discovery about the family tree ...

An acquisition - I'm thinking of the kind of thing that might kick start a time slip novel - a painting, a house, a piece of jewelry.

Travel - a holiday, a business trip, a journey for family or personal reasons.

Discontent - the hero or heroine is unhappy with their life and decides to change it.

Those are the ones I could think of, but there are bound to be a whole lot more.

Crime writing, if it is a police procedural or features a professional/amateur sleuth, might be a bit different as it is often linked with an event - like the discovery of that unexpected body in the library ... But then there can be consequences for a whole circle of people, all with their own journeys to follow.

Whatever your genre, if you have your character standing at a cross roads then there is bound to be a story. The points where two road meet have traditionally been thought of as dangerous places ...

In some cases the journey from the change point can lead to one of the others - loss of a job to landing that dream job for instance. And we writers do like to tie things up neatly. I've often thought, when reading, that in real life you don't get a sudden windfall, or meet that fabulous new love, or inherit a house, just at the moment you most need it. But if you write fiction with a positive outlook, especially if it is romance, with an expectation of a happy ever after, that's the way it has to be. I believe readers do know this, but the whole point is optimism and possibility. An affirmation that things can be worked out.

I've got a lot of support from those affirmative books while standing at my crossroads. I'm grateful to the authors who have written the stories that are keeping me going.


  1. Optimism and possibility sum it up perfectly, Evonne.
    Angela Britnell

    1. Hi Angela. It's the belief in that which keeps us going :)