I have a kid who's starting middle school in a couple of days. Gulp. To say the house is a bit stressed is an understatement. He has a powerful personality and it affects all of us. But we're a pretty tight-knit family so that's natural, I guess.

I think most stories are about transitions, the bigger the better. But transitions are insidious in some ways. On the surface they don't seem like much. Birthdays, new responsibilities at work, new exercise routines, trying out a new church, or even switching breakfast cereals...some of these little things can really throw us for a loop, huh?

I've been thinking about the transitions I'm put my characters through. Every single character in SCAR is experiencing a major transition. Trinidad's priest is sick and dying. Soon he will be transferred to another priest, maybe even another parish.  Castile has recently gotten out of prison. On the surface he's confident, but the world has changed in eight years, he's an adult now, and he's just realizing how much his damage reflects the world. The Bishop and a few others have discovered a new Holy Land that creates as many questions as the old one did. Her faith and her power are changing.  Landri, the Indigo, has just taken power of her tribe when her father died. Even Wolf, Trinidad's little brother, is experiencing the awkward transition of the teen-aged years.

In EXILE, the book I'm  submitting in the next few days, Draken has been accused of a crime he didn't commit. When the book opens, he's in physical transition: he's on the ship taking him to Akrasia, the arse-end of the world, for banishment.

Without these transitions, I realized, there would be no story. Maybe that's what the Inciting Incident is, a transition. And I think the flavor of genre fiction today just might demand we show our characters in the middle of that transition when the story launches. Is that a Rule? Maybe it's one of mine, at least, something to lean on when I plot.

What transitions are your characters going through and how do they speak to your story?


N. R. Williams said...

In my epic fantasy, Missie finds herself in another world where her music (she plays a flute) is the key to healing the people and destroying the bad guy. Her transitions are multiplied with treats, and confusion and love. In my new short fantasy series my main character, a phoenix, is transformed into a woman. Talk about transition, she has to get used to many new things. Walking instead of flying, wearing clothes instead of being clothed in beautiful feathers and many more including the threat her capture, a magician is imposing on her.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Kay Richardson said...

My character has woken up as a huge bug! I'm well excited about this idea. It's going to be a landmark in modern fiction, I can tell. YES!

Dayana Stockdale said...

My main character wakes up in another world!
I think its not just today's genre fiction or yesterday's or whatever. Transition is a part of All fiction. That's what fiction is. You start somewhere and you end up somewhere else. I don't totally get what you mean about showing characters in the middle of it when the story launches. Maybe you mean throwing them into their problems right in the beginning? I did this my WIP and then realized that it was all wrong. You have to have a strong exposition and show your reader who your character is before throwing them into anything, or else the reader will not care enough about them and will not be able to guess how the character will react to a given situation.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I tend to start all my stories media res, so I guess I disagree with the exposition. Today's readers are pretty smart and want to make up their own minds about whether they like a character or what.