Sometimes life imitates fiction. For instance, you’re tooling along, everything as usual, expecting to grill a couple burgers for dinner, then kick back and watch the ball game And out of the blue, something happens that throws you a curve, all your mundane expectations scattered like pick-up sticks (click here if you’re too young to remember pick-up sticks)
There was another shake up a couple years ago. I broke my ankle moments before I’d planned to leave to check out a horse I was thinking of buying. That break not only stopped me from buying that horse, it kept me from riding for several weeks.
Thirty-five years ago while driving to work, someone turned left directly in front of me. The collision totaled my car and when I slammed on the brake pedal, I fractured my foot (same one I later broke the ankle of). That particular accident led indirectly to me meeting my husband of three-plus decades, so it wasn’t all bad. 😉 But I ended up in the hospital rather than work that day.
When you’re writing a story, you’ll want send your characters into a similar life-off-the-tracks situations right from the beginning. They can start out in an everyday, humdrum experience, but within pages, everything has to change for them. Whether they’re fired from their job or barely escape being flattened by a piano, an inciting incident had better yank them free of their moorings. And their travails have to continue, building in magnitude to keep your reader reading.
I wouldn’t wish a car accident or a broken ankle on anyone. But when it comes to my fictional characters, sometimes a trip to the hospital is just what the doctor ordered. 🙂