Remember the part in the movie, Thelma and Louise, when Thelma (Geena Davis) tosses her empty tube of lipstick over her shoulder? These two desperate women had just reached "the point of no return," a place in the story when a character or characters still have a minuscule chance to return to their old lives if all the cards fell in their favor. After they robbed a convenience store, Thelma wasn't sure what was ahead; but she knew lipstick would no longer do her any good where they were going.
The point of no return usually appears about halfway into a story. For example, when the characters are on a journey, involving survival (whether one of choice or one imposed) the first half of the story leaves room for hope that things can return to safer times before everything goes to hell. As readers, we want everything to work out because we feel empathy for the characters.
For Thelma and Louise, trouble starts soon after they leave for a fishing trip. They are both ready to get away for some fun and relaxation. Thelma needs time away from her controlling husband and Louise (Susan Sarandon) from her hectic job as a waitress. They stop at a roadside bar and Thelma has a bit too much to drink and is led to the parking lot by a not-so-nice man. Louise becomes concerned and goes after her friend only to find she is being sexually assaulted. Louise pulls a gun on the guy and threatens to shoot him. He walks away but turns around and says he should have continued with his intention to rape Thelma. Louise goes ballistic and kills the guy.
Their survival journey begins when they flee the scene. They check into a motel and discuss the situation. Thelma wants to go to the police, but Louise fears no one will believe she killed the guy defending Thelma's honor. They decide to flee to Mexico, but Louise refuses to drive through Texas because of a past incident (which had contributed to the shooting). At each turn of events, things get worse, but at this point they can still turn themselves in and throw themselves to the mercy of the court. Then a drifter (Brad Pitt) steals all their money. Out of desperation, Thelma robs a convenience store. Now they are wanted for two felonies. Turning back is out of the question. They've reached the point of no return.
If you haven't seen the movie, I won't spoil the ending.
So if you're writing a suspense novel or a thriller, give some thought to the "point of no return." It's an important part of the story and a powerful tool for the remainder.
Thelma and Louise was nominated for six Academy Awards and won Best Original Screenplay. Now go check out the "points of no return" in Bonnie and Clyde, winner of two Academy Awards; and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, winner of four.
Five-Minute Writing Tip
Maybe it's just spring or the extra daylight, but this time of year seems to me to be more of a time for planning and reflection than New Year's Day.
Lately I've longed for the good old days, before social media demanded so much of my time. "Demanded" may not be the right word, but social media is akin to sugar "demanding" we consume too much of it. I like to think we still have a choice. There's no question that for a writer who wants to promote her books, social media is a must: announcements on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+, help spread that word about a new release or an event we're attending. Social media introduces us to folks who can help us promote and connect with readers.
I've been struggling with spending too much time "connecting" online. So, I started a new writing practice. I even wrote it as a motto on each day of my desk calendar: Write First, Write More.
WFWM means I begin my day writing and clock my time throughout the day. Sending and answering emails comes second and social-media comes last. The only exception is if I'm hosting an author on my blog site that day. If so, I immediately send her the link and share it on social media, but that doesn't take more than fifteen minutes. On days that I have only a couple of hours to write and socialize, I make sure writing takes up at least fifty percent of that time.
After I first started categorizing my computer time and realized that I spent most of it on writing projects, it helped alleviate guilt over spending too much time online. In other words, it put things in an encouraging perspective.
You might think it's all about balancing your time. But I like to think of it as an imbalance with the scales tilted toward writing - which makes me feel good about what I do.