Just in case you aren’t familiar with this concept, let’s a have discussion of Point of Attack. Think of a timeline that stretches from the earliest point in the story to the end. Where you decide to start your telling of it is your Point of Attack.
Let’s say you’re going to tell the story of World War II in Europe. The beginning is when Hitler is elected. The end is the Nuremburg trials. Where do you jump in? And part of that decision will rest on whose point of view you want to use: Allied or Axis?
Let’s choose the Axis POV. You could start at the beginning. You could also start at the end. How? Well, I’d be tempted to choose a single German on trial at Nuremburg and start at his first day in court. Testimony could be the catalyst for telling the story through flashbacks. Each time you come back from a flashback, you find our Nazi a bit further along in the trial.
You can spend time in the “present” in talks with his lawyer, internal dialogue, whatever. Just keep going back and forth until you reach the point where he’s hung and the rope snaps tight. The end. And who you choose to follow can leave you pumping your fist or shaking your head. Do you use Goering or maybe a fictional character who was a dupe?
Hopefully, in this very simple example, you can see how deciding on your point of attack will have a huge effect on what sort of literary devices you use to tell the story. It can influence pace, tone, and other factors. What I described here is probably better for something that you want to be more thoughtful.
If you want fast-paced, start at the beginning. For example, the Point of Attack for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was actually before the beginning. That movie started out in overdrive, because it was the climax of Indie’s LAST adventure. The plane literally flies into the sunset at the start of the movie. Then we pick up the story that THIS movie is about a few minutes later.
The point of attack for The Substance Hoped For is, arguably, the very beginning. No, I don’t start with the visitations received by Joseph and Mary. I start with the Three Wise Men. From there I jump forward 2000 years to the present day, Tom’s time. As I established each subplot, I went from past to present and back until Tom bridged that gap for us. His – and our – anchor remains current day, thanks to relationships he has before getting zapped back to A.D.0001.
I could arguably say that I used the same Point of Attack as Raiders of the Lost Ark above. If the story is about Tom, then starting with the Wise Men starts BEFORE the actual story line. He then provides the connection in a loop when he goes back in time.
And he actually meets the Wise Men and becomes friends with them. DON’T WORRY. That’s not a spoiler. I’m not telling how that happens!
Again, deciding point of attack strongly influences, if not dictates, the structure and feel of your story-telling.
NEXT: The Path of Discovery.
The Substance Hoped For by Jeffrey H. King
Available on line at Authorhouse in hard and soft cover: Look for the orange cover. http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/