39. Study story architecture.
What is the most important moment in your story? Is it your opening? No. Is it when we first meet your hero? No. A plot twist? No. Is it when everything seems to come together in the end? No again. The most important moment in your story is when everything changes for the hero, when what the hero believes is his/her reality experiences a sudden shift. Suddenly, there’s a new deal on the table that sends your hero down an unexpected path, and as part of this new deal, the reader gets a sense of what really stands in the hero’s way. That particular moment changes your story, and in doing so, it could be argued that this is when your story really begins. Everything that happened prior to it was just a set-up. It’s called the First Plot Point, and it cannot be messed with.
Remember, timing isn’t optional. The First Plot Point needs to happen at about 20-25% into the story, right after you’ve set it all up. The more invested the reader is in the characters, especially the hero, the more the stakes of the story have been made relevant to those characters, then the more emotional empathy the reader will experience when that moment arrives.
Blatancy is optional. You don’t have to have a really big, dramatic experience occur. Sometimes, your hero’s world is rocked with just a whisper or a few unexpected words. Sometimes, less is more.