Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Joyride and Payoff

Once you have hooked the reader, the story goes into the second phase, what Aristotle called the rising action.

This is when you take the readers on a “joyride.” That’s the middle of the book. This is when you and your readers have the most fun.

How do you create a joyride? 
With reversals. The protagonist runs into problems that keep her from reaching her goal. Reversals cause tension and conflict (the engine of a good plot) because they alter the path that the protagonist must take to get to her intended goal.
After the reversal, Aristotle suggested something he called “recognition,” which is the point in the story where the relationships between major characters change as a result of the reversal.

A reversal is an event, but recognition is the irreversible emotional change within the characters brought about by that event. Note that both the reversal and recognition come from the story being told, not from out of the blue.
After you've taken the reader on a joyride, make it worth their while when they finally reach the end of your book by giving them a satisfying payoff. 

The payoff is the end, the logical outcome of all the events in the beginning and the middle. Everything that has happened to this point inevitably leads to a final resolution in which everything is explained and everything makes sense.

Your ending need not move them to tears, although there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to leave them feeling happy, although it’s probably a good idea to do so. But you must leave them feeling complete. The reader wants a satisfying resolution to the story. If the ending doesn't deliver, the reader feels cheated by the entire experience.

From NOVEL SECRETS (paperback or Kindle)

Lary Crews