Welcome to another installment of rewriting the breakfast scene. There’s a reason why this one is so difficult: It’s the central turning point in the first act, the place where Nita and Nick start seeing each other as human beings instead of puzzles to be solved.
• Part One is two parallel scenes that show Nita and Nick in stable worlds and the beginning of the fracture of those worlds.
• Part Two is Nita vs. Nick as they both try to find out what’s going wrong and the beginning (however testy) of their relationship.
• Part Three is two scene sequences showing the aftermath of that Part Two conflict with additional hits on Nita’s conviction that there is nothing supernatural on the island and Nick’s conviction that there’s is nothing left of his humanity.
• Part Four, the breakfast scene, is the payoff to all of that as they see each as more than puzzles, and the transition into the last half of the story:
• Part Five, another double scene sequence (this one belongs to Nick) in which the two of them separately try to find out more about Joey’s death, the missing agents, and each other and getting more hits on their convictions about reality.
• Part Six, two parallel scenes that show Nick’s conflict in Hell and throw the act into . . .
• Part Seven, a final single scene sequence with all the players on stage in which what’s left of Nita and Nick’s stable world disintegrates.
All of that makes the breakfast scene literally pivotal, that is, the plot pivots on it as a soft turning point.
What’s a soft turning point, you ask? (Well, carolc asked.) I made it up for my own use but I will generously share it with my fellow wonks (that’s anybody who’s still reading this post). Turning points are places in a narrative where a story turns in a new directions. There are big ones–the beginning where the story turns from the stable world; the middle ones that are things going wrong, the point of no return where the events of the story have changed the protagonist too much for her to back to her old stable life, and the crisis or going-to-hell point where all is lost; and then the last turning point, the climax that turns the story out of conflict and into a new stable world. Those are the biggies and they come before, between, and after the acts. But acts are like stories in and of themselves, and so they have internal turning points which are good to look at in a truck draft. (Not a discovery draft. You just write a discovery draft, don’t pick at it.)
So this first act of Nita’s, analyzed with turning points, makes the breakfast scene the point of no return. The elements are already there: Nick’s calm explanation of the supernatural makes it less unbelievable, Nita’s food brings some of Nick’s memories back, they bond over the food and over their interest in finding out who ordered Joey killed. I just need to make those things stronger so that the events send them both out with intensified goals. The breakfast scene isn’t a Point of No Return scene with the same intensity as the midpoint of the whole novel, it’s much softer, but it serves the same purpose in this act. And of course I did most of the stuff you told me to when you all did a beta read on the breakfast scene before, and thank you very much for that. Here’s the turning points diagram for this act: And here is your truck draft for the breakfast scene (you can get to it from the WiP tab on the website, too). It still needs work, but it does what it needs to do for the moment. As always, all comments and suggestions are welcome. No rewriting, please, that’s my job.