Plotting Sequel: Decisions, Decisions

The trouble with letting the story action pause while your character processes his or her problem is that the story has P-A-U-S-E-D.

It’s not advancing.

How do you get the plot going again? By having your protagonist reach a decision.

The weighing of options has to reach an end. None of the choices should look attractive or easy, but the character must choose something to do next.

That decision should connect to the story goal, the overall objective. The decision should be a specific choice of the next course of action. It should acknowledge the motivation that lies behind it. It should point out the risks to the reader and share why the protagonist is going to take that risk anyway.

Then the reader can think, Go for it! I’m right there with you!

Reaching a decision is a critical turning point in the sequel because it signals to readers that the interlude is coming to an end. Action is about to follow.

This signal launches a feeling of anticipation or expectation in the reader. A plan has been laid. We’ve looked at the risks and dangers. We’re going to try to circumvent them this way.

Okay, the reader thinks, so what’s going to go wrong? How can we squeak past the danger point? What if we’re caught? I have to keep reading. I can’t put this book down now.

Reaching a decision is all about the protagonist forming a new goal for the scene that will come next.

You are, in effect, positioning the character for the conflict to come and positioning the reader to eagerly await it.

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