There's no way I can top Wavy's most excellent post on premature climaxes (love that title, btw) from yesterday, so I'm not even going to try. But I am going to touch on something that's been on my mind lately. Mainly, jumping off points and what keeps your characters going when they get deep into your story.
I blogged about Michael Hauge's fabulous National workshop at my other blog, and I mentioned it at our meeting on Tuesday, but I'll say it again here just for good measure. If you ever have a chance to take one of Michael's workshops, do it. He breaks plot points and character arcs down into their simplest forms and uses examples from movies most of the population (or at least, most romance readers) have seen. Basically, he dissects movies (or books) into the three act structure, and within that, has six plot stages, marked by five turning points:
Turning Point #1 - When the main character is presented with the opportunity that changes his/her life
Turning Point #2 (end of first act) - When the main character's plans are drastically altered
Turning Point #3 (halfway point) - The point of no return when the main character becomes fully committed to their goal
Turning Point #4 (end of second act) - Where main character experiences a major setback
Turning Point #5 - The climax
As I listened to Michael explain each of the six plot stages in his model, what stood out to me was the halfway point or point of no return. I've heard this from other authors before - that the halfway point in your book marks a major change of some kind, where the characters might have been halfway committed to their goal before, but are now fully committed. Often this is when the first love scene happens, when some secret is shared, walls are brought down, and (in a romance) characters connect on an emotional level. Love scenes don't always have to happen here, but it's a natural point for that to occur, and if they don't, then there's probably some other transformation that happens at the halfway mark.
Most of us probably do this instinctively, but it's fun to look back at your work and see if you have some sort of "point of no return" in your book. So I opened my GH book (the one my agent's shopping) and flipped to pg 240 (of a 480 pg book). No love scene, but after a tense chase scene, the heroine (who is the main character in this book), realizes in order to achieve her goal, she has to put her trust in the hero. For her, it's an emotional and pivotal moment because she doesn't instinctively trust people. And trusting men is something she's always struggled with. Especially this man. The first love scene doesn't happen for another chapter or two, but there's an obvious shift from working against each other, to working with each other. She admits it to herself, and he realizes it in her actions.
So here's your challenge today: Open your last finished book - or your wip, doesn't matter which - and look at the halfway point. (If it's a wip, look at where the halfway point should be. For example, I expect my wip to run about 400-420 pgs. I'm on pg 320 right now, so I'll look at pgs 200-210). Is there a point of no return somewhere withing the 10-20 pg range of your halway point? If so, what is it? Is there a love scene? If not, where is the love scene in relation to the midway point, and does your book fall into line with Hauge's Point of No Return theory?