Thursday, July 12, 2012

Inflection Points for Writers (and Characters)

Today's blog post isn't really about writing. Except in a way, it is.

I've been thinking a lot the past few days about inflection points in life. I'm very pleased -- thrilled, in fact -- with the way the last year in writing has gone for me. And it has been, almost exactly, a year now since the day I woke up with an idea for a short story in my head and sat down and wrote my first complete piece of fiction in several years.

And I can trace all of that back to something completely and totally unrelated to writing that had happened several months before. An action I had decided to take early last year, and the events which resulted from it, led directly to the story idea. And that story was the spark to all of this...

Similarly, some of the events that helped me most through some of the "growing pains" of this return to writing all results from one innocuous tweet that someone else sent me last year, asking for a bit of assistance from me. Without that tweet, I might not have had some of my early sales and I might not have struck up a conversation with the person who is now one of my best writing friends. And if both of those forms of support hadn't existed while I was going through some of those rough patches? Well, who knows. Maybe I would have kept with writing. Maybe I would have decided there were better uses for my available hours.

The thing about these inflection points is that many times we can't identify them until months later. There are obvious things -- major illnesses, accidents, disasters -- that we can see and expect to impact our lives. But these little things, like your college roommate deciding to run for City Council which leads to you meeting your wife which leads to, well, the whole of your adult life. Can you really see that coming? No.

So it's incredibly hard to know whether any set of events is "good" or "bad" in the moment. Which makes life interesting.

I've said how this relates to my writing journey, personally. But it can also relate to writing in general. Your characters might have inflection points, too. Especially if you're writing a series of novels or stories about a character, there's an opportunity here to build some depth into their big picture story arc. A seemingly trivial event in one book might have huge ripple effects three books down the road. And it mirrors real life, so your readers just might look at your character's inflection point and think about ones they've experienced.


  1. Not to harp on the Harry Potter series too much but it's a great example of what you mention in this post. Something from book one, that may not have seemed all that spectacular, gets built upon in book 5 then BAM! Changes and dangers. It's interesting to take a look back at such inflections points. So glad you had one such point that got you pointed back in the "write" direction (sorry, couldn't help it lol!!!) Otherwise, you wouldn't have these great e-books coming out, both sci-fi and the recent writing tips.

    1. Oh, the Harry Potter series is an excellent example of this! I suspect if I did a close re-reading of the series I could find any number of things like this in those books. Great point and thank you for your kind words!

  2. What a nice take on those little moments in life that mean so much later on reflection.

    1. Thank you! I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.