Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The "Oh No" Factor

There comes a part in every teen's life when they realize they are far up shit creek without a paddle. Or a boat, for that matter. One such time was today. This teen was stranded downtown, sans bus fare and sans car, for about two hours.

How did I survive?

That's a story for another day, my friends.

What I wanted to talk about was that "oh no" moment. It usually comes within the first fifty pages of your novel. It's the time when the protagonist decides his character for the rest of the book. It's that moment that triggers the journey of epicness into that coming of age arc that we all love so much. (How many thats was that?) This moment can come in many forms. Usually it's a big shock (my mom is cheating on my dad with my history teacher!!) that totally breaks down one of the MC's support systems (aka: my history teacher -- WHY MR. JONES, WHY?!) and forces the MC to become an "adult" for better or for worse.

So what are your favorite Oh No Moments? Are they in novels you've read, or novels you've written? What makes them memorable?


SuzanneYoung said...

Nice post, Soph! For me, I usually have my characters go through, slowly building up anger until finally, about three quarters of the way through... they SNAP!!!!

Ya know, like with a food fight in the kitchen of a Mexican Restaurant or by picking up an ax and chopping off the head of a zombie ex.

So I like my "Oh no" moment near the end. When all hope is lost. But it never really is. Not in one of my books. ;)

Jordan said...

Funny, I know exactly what you mean because every single one of my stories has an "Oh no" moment, but my favorite books, the one I read about ten times as a kid, doesn't really have one. The author does do a flashback/forward thing at the beginning to start when it's somewhat exciting (not the most riveting book but I love it, My Side of the Mountain), but there is no definitive "moment."

But all MY stories do. I guess that's just the way I write, or just the stories I'm telling now. Perhaps it will change somewhere down the line.

Sage said...

I agree with Suz that it doesn't have to be at the beginning always.

The most obvious "Oh, no!" moment for my stuff is Mai falling for Joanne in LS. That actually does take place in the first chapter.

In DownLoad, though, DL acts without knowing what he's "Oh, no"ing about for most of the novel. The "Oh no" for him is mostly the choice to act.

hannah said...

Hmm....WELL, right around page 50 in These Humans we have the "OH NO PREGNANT VIRGIN." I think that's my biggest Oh No. :)

J.J. Carrera said...

My "oh no" moments happen early. I'm talking within the first 2 chapters, which for MG is only 2-4K. I like to deal with what happens after the "oh no".

Great post, Soph!