Guest Post – The Point Of No Return by Sarah Mussi
Today I am so so happy to be part of the blog tour for Here Be Dragons by the lovely Sarah Mussi!
Here Be Dragons was released on the 1st September 2015 published by Vertebrate Publishing and is book one in Sarah’s new Snowdonia Chronicles series! I am so over the moon to have received a copy and I cannot wait to delve into this adventure as soon as possible!
Here Be Dragons is now showcased by The People’s Book Prize!
VOTE for HBD here: http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1332
There’s also a fab giveaway running throughout the blog tour to win a copy of Here Be Dragons! Be sure to check out the bottom of the post to find out how to enter!
Today Sarah interviews herself in the form of a brilliant guest post and discusses The Point Of No Return…….
Ellie Morgan wants a boy who’s all hers. Just for once, it would be nice to meet someone that Sheila (the cow) hadn’t got her claws in to.
A remote farmhouse on Mount Snowdon is hardly the ideal setting for meeting anyone unless, of course, you count her best friend George or creepy Darren (which Ellie doesn’t). But when a boy, glimpsed through the mist and snow, lures her up to the Devil’s Bridge, Ellie realises the place she knows so well still has its secrets …
The stronger her feelings for this strange boy become, the more she is in danger: a battle as old as Snowdon itself has been raging for centuries and now Ellie’s caught in the middle.
Something has left its lair.
It s out there stalking her.
Who ever said true love was easy?
The Point Of No Return
Hi everybody and welcome back to my blog tour to celebrate the launch of HERE BE DRAGONS, Book One in my new trilogy: THE SNOWDONIA CHRONICLES!
HERE BE DRAGONS is a story about Snowdonia, myth and magic and first love and is book one in the first trilogy I’ve ever written!
In this blog post, I am going to interview myself about the process of writing HERE BE DRAGONS. So far I have covered:
- The Hook
- The Inciting Incident
- The First Turning Point – of the story.
So what are we going to look at today, Sarah?
Today we are going to look at the Point of No Return. We have reached Camp 2 on our ascent of Everest (I am comparing writing this book to an attempt to climb the greatest mountain in the world – partly because you need some of the same qualities: stamina, resilience, a map, a guide, helpers etc and also because I count writing HERE BE DRAGONS as one of my greatest achievements and the fulfilment of a life-long goal: to write a fantasy and a love story).
So here we are at Camp 2 6400 m / 21000 ft.
“After an endless, slow march through the silent valley, you reach at last a rocky patch, at the foot of the icy Lhotse wall. This marks camp 2. This place is absolutely stunning. Clouds roll in from the lower ranges of the Himalaya, up the valley and into the camp. While acclimatizing, we spend time looking for cool old climbing gear; left here by all of Everest’s climbing history. This is also the last chance to get a decent, prepared meal. We eat all we are handed because soon we´ll be surviving on instants only.”
Ok, Sarah, you mention that writing HERE BE DRAGONS is fulfilling a life long goal – can you expand?
Yes HERE BE DRAGONS is really THE kind of book that I’ve always wanted to write. It’s the kind of book I wanted to read too as a teen (still do)! Falling in love on a mountain with magical things happening – both in terms of that growing up process and in terms of the actual mountain steeped in myth and magic!
And, of course, with the myths of the dragons that live under Dinas Emrys and the fact that at one time Snowdon was called the mountain of King Arthur – and Merlin is associated with it and all of those magical creatures like the Tylwyth Teg – and the Mabinogion – absolutely fascinating, deep and rich history, rich culture. What’s not to love!
Great. So now back to how you wrote your book?
So I thought I’d structure my book along the classic three-act structure. AND I would also structure my blog tour along those lines – and explain in each post how HERE BE DRAGONS was mapped using that structure and how the book, itself, then began to take form. I kind of liked that idea.
Just bring us up to speed on why you are following the Three-Act Structure?
Because in a film script book that I first used to help me to understand how to structure a story (my Bible: Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Ray Frensham) he drew a little picture of a story mountain. I love mountains. There are mountains all over the place in my book, obviously.
So today I’m going to talk about the midway point in HERE BE DRAGONS, or what is called The Point Of No Return, in the three-act structure. As anyone who has studied the structure knows, this is the point at which the story is balanced on the midpoint, on the fulcrum.
For our main character, the protagonist, it is a decision to go forward and to face the things ahead – because the distance ahead is as long or as short as the distance behind – or to retreat into the self and refuse The Call to Adventure, and then basically we have no story!
So it’s a choice for the protagonist and it should be marked by some kind of deep inner choice and it’s also a growth point, in which the hunted must become the hunter, or the captive must escape and seek freedom. At this point, even though it may not be marked by a BIG scene there must be some deep emotional commitment to the future. So I got to thinking about how I could give my story a resonance. I needed something to help Ellie think deeply about what she was getting into. So I decided I’d use a reveal, a reveal that perhaps has been foreshadowed in the first half of the story – but when it is revealed – it has that: oh yes! I knew that was coming! But I didn’t guess it was coming in that way!
Oh this is fascinating, Sarah, so tell! Tell!
Well I did include a BIG reveal at The Point of No Return – but of course I’d be spoiling it if I told you what the reveal was! But it needed to be a reveal by the main character or about one or other of the main characters – that she was deeply involved with, and it needed to be a reveal that was a complete game changer.
Ok, if you can’t tell us what the reveal is – can you tell us how you did it?
It’s kind of difficult in writing to do a reveal – because most of it is going to be in conversation – whilst it is action on the page: i.e. showing not telling, it can also be misused or abused as a vehicle for dumping exposition. The reader will pretty soon get tired of reading a conversation in which they are being retold things they already know. It also runs the risk of feeling stilted, if two characters are talking at each other rather than with each other.
Oh, and good conversation should probably be terse, short and oblique. So this was going to be a real challenge. How was I going to set up this conversation? How was I going to make sure that the characters in this conversation didn’t walk away from the conversation? How was I to be sure that they would be ‘in character’ and yet at the same time create a reveal that would be a midway point? How was I going to infer that the Point of No Return had been reached and passed and that now my heroine was committed to a course of action from which she has no escape? How can she exit from that conversation? (put in some cute pics of magic-ish Mabinogion characters in love 🙂 )
So how did you?
Well, I reset it in the same place as she had originally been captive in – and captivated by her love interest (Henry) so no walking away from the reveal. I worked very hard on voice and I had lots of distractions going on in the scene – lashings of angst and jeopardy – and I crossed my fingers that it worked! Here’s an excerpt for you to judge.
“‘There is so much you don’t know,’ Henry sighed.
‘Better tell me, then’ I said. There was no way he was going to fob me off with any not-now-maybe-later excuses.
He shuffled his feet, as if he didn’t want to tell me anything, as if we could all somehow stay here, inside Halfway House, and ignore everything outside forever. ‘Will you promise me something first, Ellie?’ he said.
‘No deal,’ I said nearly giving in to those huge liquid eyes. ‘Start talking.’
‘Better tell her, old boy,’ said George. ‘She has a way of getting what she wants.’
‘And why are you here?’ I snapped at George. He wasn’t going to escape from question time either.
‘Just checking you arrived safely,’ said George, with a butter-wouldn’t-melt expression plastered all over his cute face.
‘I just don’t know where to start,’ said Henry, leaning his chin on his hand.
‘Try the beginning,’ I said tartly.
‘Ok,’ said Henry, his eyes suddenly sad, as if the whole world was about to end. He took in a deep breath and bit his lip – opened his beautiful mouth – and said nothing.
‘Right,’ I said, because I wasn’t going to have any of that. ‘Do you know why there’s a dragon outside?’
George struggled to pat his shoulder encouragingly.
‘Well?’ I demanded.
‘It’s a long story …’
‘We’ve got all night.’ I said, narrowing up my eyes and plonking myself down on a log.
‘If only you would promise…’ he started.
‘Go on,’ said George. ‘Can’t be that bad.’
‘You. Be. Quiet,’ I snapped to George. You shouldn’t be here, and you went up against a dragon with your second-best axe, which in my books makes you totally psychiatrically certifiable.’”
Any other things you did, or like doing as you are writing, Sarah?
When I am writing, I really love playing around with metaphor and with opposites and juxtaposing ideas. For example the idea of being held captive by the snow, being held captive by love, by events escalating, snow falling – you get the idea.
At the end of that end of my Point of No Return reveal scene, that turning-point conversation, there is another great scene in which she sees things from above, she gets to see the big picture, she is freed from what happened before in a really important way and able to make a decision not to allow events to ‘happen TO her’ any more – but to now take charge and control events as best she can. It was a scene, I had to re-write many, many times in order to get all of those points in (I wanted to capture the feeling in pic below) – and I would be interested to receive feedback from anyone after they have read HERE BE DRAGONS – to see if I got all that right!! Fingers crossed!
Okay, better go before I do a spoiler! Bye for now, see you at blog post five: The Darkest Hour – with The Perks of Being a Book Girl!
Thank you once again for having me Chelley
About Sarah Mussi
Sarah Mussi is an award-winning author of children’s and young adults’ fiction. Her first novel, The Door of No Return, won the Glen Dimplex Children’s Book Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, The Last of the Warrior Kings, was shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award, inspired a London Walk, and is used as a textbook in Lewisham schools. Her thriller, Siege, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (2014) and won the BBUKYA award for contemporary YA fiction. Her thriller, Riot, was longlisted for The Amazing Book Award and shortlisted for The Lancashire Schools Award. Her most recent novel, Bomb, was published in 2015 by Hodder Children’s Books. Sarah was born and raised in the Cotswolds, attended Pate’s Grammar School for Girls, and graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art and an MA from the Royal College of Art. She spent over fifteen years in West Africa as a teacher and now teaches English in Lewisham, where she is also the current Chair of CWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London).
Find out more about Sarah on her website – www.sarahmussi.com
Or why not follow Sarah on twitter using – @sarahmussi
You can buy Sarah’s books here
Here Be Dragons is now showcased by The People’s Book Prize. VOTE for HBD here: http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1332
TO BE IN WITH A CHANCE OF WINNING A COPY OF HERE BE DRAGONS, ANSWER THIS QUESTION:
WHO IS ELLIE’S BEST FRIEND?
THE ANSWER CAN BE FOUND BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK:
EMAIL YOUR ANSWER TO [email protected] AND ONE WINNER WILL BE PICKED AT RANDOM EACH WEEK OF SARAH’S BLOG TOUR.
A huge huge thank you to Sarah for the fab guest post and to Lorna at Vertebrate Publishing for organising the tour! Here Be Dragons sounds AMAZING! I can’t wait!
You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour here!
Have you read Here Be Dragons? What did you think? Will you be picking up a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !