Monday, March 26, 2012


I had the awesome privilege of attending a writers conference for middle grade and YA Fiction writers over the weekend led by Martha Alderson. I wanted to share something I learned from the conference with you today on my blog...


As I complete the rewrite of my manuscript, I ran into a road block. There was something missing from the end of the second act. I knew what my climax would be in the third act, but the second act wasn't ready to end.

I needed another obstacle for my protagonist to face before she reached the third act when it all comes together. 

But I had no clue what I was missing. I knew I was headed for the writers conference, so I decided to wait and see what the speaker had to say about plot development. 

Boy am I glad I waited!

Crisis Within a Plot

Ok, so she mentioned crisis. A light bulb went off in my head. That's what I was missing! The crisis point in my plot where the protagonist is at her wits end. 

Think Katniss in The Hunger Games when she's in the cave with a mortally wounded Peeta. Think Harry Potter in the last book when he is struck down by Voldemort. Think Aslan being killed by the White Witch and her demons in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Think the final climb of Mount Mordor by Frodo and Sam in Return of the King in The Lord of the Rings.

Martha Alderson explained that the Crisis point in your story is where your protagonist has lost everything. He has been stripped down of all his defenses and he thinks he cannot go on any further...not one more step. Or perhaps your character has lost everything and wants to continue, but doesn't know which way to go. Or maybe she has been abandoned by her friends and doesn't want to go on alone.

The point is, the Crisis is that moment of truth for your protagonist.

The Antagonist

Martha Alderson also stated that the Crisis is the Climax for the antagonist. That made all in attendance think, huh?

But she explained that the Crisis is when the antagonist is at his strongest point. It is when the antagonist has all the power on his side and it appears that our hero is so stricken that she can't go on. 

So picture the antagonist standing there victorious over the wounded body of the hero. 

What Happens Now?

In the story of Christ Jesus, the Crisis moment was when He died on the cross. The enemy thought he was victorious as the body of Jesus was buried in the tomb. 

But what happens next is the pivotal moment in the story....the way to the Climax and ending. 

Remember, the Crisis is NOT the Climax of the story. Our hero lies in the tomb. The people are weeping because they think He is dead forever. 

But wait!  

The stone is rolled away and our hero rises again having defeated death once and for all!

In your story, what happens after the Crisis is what takes your readers to the Climax. In my book, The Dragon Forest, the Crisis is when the King and his soldiers are about to be killed by the Black Dragon. Prince Peter realizes that something drastic is about to happen so he tries to stop it. There is a moment between father and son right at the end of the second act....and then the Climax of the story happens in the third act.

You, as the writer, take the reader on this amazing journey. The Crisis of your story is when that moment of truth happens for your protagonist. This leads to the rise in action to the Climax of the entire story...and then down to a satisfying ending to it all. 


What a great conference!  Now I have my Crisis point in my story. I knew it was lacking something and now I know what it is!

This is the joy of writing: when you realize that moment of truth in your story and how the message you wish to convey will come to fruition. 

I hope this has helped you. I recommend Martha Alderson's book. But most of all, I hope you have fun writing your story as you uncover more and more about your characters. 

But most importantly...just write!



  1. Love this advice! I'm learning so much lately about plot, and am glad to add this tidbit to my knowledge bank. :) Glad you had a great time at your conference!

    1. That's great, Lindsay! I am learning a lot about plot too. Martha did a great job of taking us through the Climax, beginngin, and Crisis point in our story. I

      She made us all go backwards through our stories first so we could ensure our ending is indeed satisfying. She also made sure our protagonist's goal at the start was different at the ending, but I'll blog about that next week.

      Thanks for visiting! Can't wait for the ACFW conference later this year!!

  2. Ruth,
    I'm jealous. This is great! I have Martha's book. Have you followed her You Tube teachings before the book came out? Lot's of fun.

    1. Hey Jillian! Thanks for visiting.

      No,I had not heard of Martha before this conference. I will buy her book and read it thoroughly, though, because she has so much pertinent information for writers, it's amazing!

      She is able to put things into words that really make plot come alive for me.

      I will definitely check out her videos.

      Thanks for the reminder!