The Turning Point: The Moment of Truth

Somewhere around the middle of every story, you should find the turning point, the moment when the character changes direction. It is usually not a physical turning, but rather a mental decision that he/she makes, which then often translates into physical action. Often the decision is to stop fleeing and to fight for what is right. Sometimes it results from something another character says or does.

This plot point is found in all good books, not just romances. The mental decision often is what turns the person into a hero, when he must face huge odds to win. Often it is called the Moment of Truth. Here is the Moment of Truth from my pioneer book, The Handsomest Man in the Country, which is free on all venues.

The heroine, Mally, is a beautiful girl who has always dreamed of marrying the handsomest man around. The neighboring Courtney boys are all handsome, but they leave home to fight in the Civil War and don’t come back. When forced to leave her home, Mally eventually joins a wagon train where events force her into either marrying one of the men from the train, or leaving it and returning back east.

She doesn’t want to marry any of them, but takes the advice of Web, the wagon train’s scout, to marry a man she has never seen before. He had been tortured by Indians and looked terrible when she married him. Here is the Moment of Truth when she makes her decision:

Uncle Dem had said to go to Web for advice. Web saw the men when they weren’t putting on a front for the women-folk. He would know them better’n I did. I’d ask him who to marry.

My mind had been struggling all this time to fight off sleep. When I decided to get Web’s advice, it just gave up and lit out. This time the mules kept up for there wasn’t any grass and all were traveling slowly because of the rocks. Web woke me as he rode by and I looked up to see the wagons ahead circling for the night. I couldn’t put it off any longer.

As in many stories, the moment is quickly over and is not dramatic. But it makes her decide that she must give up her dream of a handsome man and marry one who will be good to her, which is what Web says this man, Trey Trahern, will be. You will find this book on this month’s contest page, or go to Amazon, Kobo, or ibooks.

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About Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse's nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said "Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes." It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.  View website

3 Replies to “The Turning Point: The Moment of Truth”

  1. Your post absolutely made me think twice about my own work, and your subtle yet strong snippet made me want to read the story – so I grabbed it – thanks for an enjoyable, informative read, Nancy.

    • Along with other writers in Seattle, I attended the 3-day seminar put on by Robert McKee called “Story.” He has a book out by that name, which I have. If you read the book, you’ll get his entire lecture, word by word, as I think he had it memorized. It was written for screenwriters, but the basic plot structure is there. He revolutionized the movie plots, for Disney and all others. So this information is from his lectures. He makes the point that the longer the story, the more major reversals it should have. Thanks for reading. I keep that book permanently free.

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