Life Twists, a/k/a Turning Points

How we process what happens to us today depends largely on what has happened to us in the past.

Turning points.

They can be beautiful (when I met my husband for the second time—another story);

or shocking (learning that my dad was having an affair);

or excruciating (the death of my dog and then the death of my mom);

or so subtle you aren’t even aware of them at the time (learning that I didn’t quite like my ability to exert power over another human being without uttering a word);

but each turning point in my life, and yours, was perfect.

Each time my life has switched gears, I’ve grown and moved and well… gone on. And one day I realize that without that shift, I’d very likely not have learned as much, nor grown as a human being.

When my bonus son was thirty-nine he suffered a stroke (a huge turning point for him). Long-story short, we moved him in with us and I was closely involved in helping him with rehab. While my home-based business tanked (this one required my in-person presence at ceaseless events), after about a year-and-a-half I made a decision: I’d write a book.

How hard could it be? (Don’t answer that.)

Turning points.

Three books published and many more under my belt (read in the proverbial drawer), I regularly transfer my life twists (real or imagined) to my characters, often unconsciously.

I’m passionate about the people who live in my books. I love them. Not always right away, but when I learn about their turning points? It simply isn’t possible not to. I don’t want to delineate each character here because that’s not the purpose of this post, but each and every one of them has gone through things you and I, or a friend of ours, or someone else we care about, has gone through. I think turning points in the backgrounds of our characters are the very things that make them relatable, whether they’re the good guys or the bad guys.

The point I’m trying to make is this: I believe each one of us is in exactly the right place in our lives. And we got to that right place because of turning points—the ecstatic turning points, and maybe especially, the difficult ones—and the resulting choices we made.

If you’re going through a hard turning point right now, hang tough. In time (a month or a year, it doesn’t matter) there’s a good chance you’ll be able to look back on it and see that it propelled you forward, often in surprising ways.

And if you’re a writer, you can use it!

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Author: Peg Brantley

With the intent to lend her stories credibility, Peg is a graduate of the Aurora Citizens’ Police Academy, attended the Writers’ Police Academy conference, has interviewed crime scene investigators, FBI agents, human trafficking experts, obtained her Concealed Carry Permit, studied diverse topics from arson dogs to Santeria, and hunted down real life locations that show up in her stories.

8 thoughts on “Life Twists, a/k/a Turning Points”

  1. Love this post, Peg! I attended a writing workshop once on character development and one of the tips was to create a timeline for each character that included the turning points in their lives relative to the inciting incident, etc.. We all have turning points in our lives so why shouldn’t our characters?! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Isn’t it funny how so many of us had that turning point of job loss that lead to writing? I had the same kind of thing happen back when I got fired from a job I’d had for 12 1/2 years. And my husband said, “Take the summer off and finish that book.” And here I am.

    In exactly the right place – I love that philosophy, Peg.

  3. Thanks, guys. One of the things I do to understand my characters is to write a few pages in first person from their POV. I find out the most interesting things!

  4. So right, Peg! Turning points for us and for our characters make us who we (and they) are. One exercise I like to do is to write a short story about one of those turning points in my character’s life before the novel begins, so that I can better understand how that character came to be who he/she is.

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