Article of the Month
Romantic Turning Points
Copyright 2001 by Alicia Rasley
These romantic plot turning points are not carved in marble; they're just
"opportunities". You might have different turning points, or in a different order. So
take these just as examples of potential opportunities for romantic
These will help outline where the relationship starts and then where it
changes and why, and then where it ends up. I have some generic titles
for the turning points below, but you can "name" your own turning points
if you like.
1. Meeting-- Mandy and Mike start out as old acquaintances with a past--
he was her cheating ex-hubby's best friend. The conflict between them now
is that he knows WAY too much about her, and that of course makes her uncomfortable.
2. Involvement due to external plot-- After Mandy's ex dies, Mandy asks
attorney Mike for advice on how to deal with her son's inheritance.
3. Betrayal-- She finds out that Mike had actually seen her late
ex-husband just before he died and had made up a new will for him, which
the insurance company is using as evidence that ex really committed
4. Reluctant alliance-- while she doesn't trust him, Mandy needs him in
order to get the financial material on ex-husband.
5. Reversal-- He get worried that her investigation is going to endanger
her, and insists on being her "bodyguard" of sorts, so goes from being an
adversary to a protector.
6. Point of no return/First kiss-- after the second murder attempt, he
takes her home and insists on staying, and then kisses her. She is
shocked-- had no idea that his feelings were romantic, and it scares her.
She's been trying to start a new life that has nothing to do with her ex,
and she doesn't know if she wants to be involved with someone who knows
her because of that old marriage.
7. Crisis-- when her son gets into trouble, she realizes that she can't
take this much emotional turmoil, and tells Mike that any romance has to
wait until life settles down. Furious, he takes her at her word and walks
out of her life.
8. Climax-- when she thinks she's found the key to the mystery, she calls
Mike-- only he will understand because only he knows her and why this
matters. He is reluctant, certain that she will hurt him again, and she
realizes that she is not the only one at risk here. She asks him to come
back, and thus he arrives just in time to save her from the bad guy.
9. Resolution-- Mike shows her that he knows her better and respects her
more than her ex ever did by letting her present the case against the bad
guy to the police. He confesses his standoffish behavior in the past was
a result of his fear that he would care too much about a friend's wifeľ
but now it's time for them to prove that they were meant for each other
These questions might help you think this plot through:
How do they meet and what is the relationship at that point?
When does the conflict between them arise?
When are they forced to cooperate or compete? When does their
relationship have to change? What are they forced to do together?
When does one begin to trust the other?
When must one lie to the other?
When does one betray the other or discover a betrayal?
When do they come into temporary accord and why?
Why can't that accord last?
What is the result of that accord (kiss or lovemaking or whatever) on the
relationship? Do they get closer or back away?
What happens in the crisis which seems to threaten their love? How is the
love tested? What happens that allows them to prove their love for each
How do they show in the end that their love will last?
HERE'S A RULE OF THUMB.... WHOEVER HAS THE MOST PROBLEMS WITH
COMMITMENT .... SHOULD BE THE ONE WHO MAKES THE GRAND COMMITMENT LEAP IN THE END.
Remember the idea of the journey, of growing to meet challenges, of
transformation because of these events. A good romantic plot can be
spoiled by the wrong ending, so look at your romantic resolution. Has the
one who had the most problem committing taken a chance, taken a risk,
made a sacrifice to show that now he/she can commit?
This has to be more than just =accepting= the other person's unwavering love. (In fact, it could be argued that as long as the other person's
love never wavers, the uncommitted person never has to fully commit.) It
should be a risk, a sacrifice, a grand gesture of some kind-- and
self-generated as much as possible.... and out of the ordinary. (The
firefighter rushing into a burning building to save heroine isn't doing
anything out of the ordinary for HIM. Tossing the old photos of his high
school sweetheart, on the other hand, might show the necessary growth.)
Alicia Rasley is a 14-year member of Romance Writers of America, a writing teacher, and a RITA-award winning Regency author. She teaches at Painted Rock Writers Colony.
If you like my articles, check out my interactive writing booklets and plot guidebook:
The Story Within Writing Series
The Story Within Guidebook
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Go to previous articles:
Quick Character Motivation Exercise
Dazzling Dialogue Tips
The Submission Journey
Suspense Is More Than Surprise
Scenes on Fire!
Beginnings, Middles, and Ends: The Purposes
On the Brink: Turbocharge Your Opening
Tightening the Sagging Middle
Sharks in the Water: Old Scams in the New Millennium
The Publishing Journey
Lest Ye Be Judged: Contest Judging for Writers
Setting and Character Interactions
Developing the Dark Moment
The Promise of the Hot Premise
Outline Your Novel in Thirty Minutes
Subtle and Sensual
Plotting Without Fears
Structuring the Story
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