Turning Point – A writing prompt for novelists

This week I’m focusing on prompts that novelists can use. If you’re  novelist, I don’t want you to feel like you’re wasting your time here at StoryADay May. While short story writers can easily use these prompts, too, you novelists will find much in them that enriches your work-in-progress.

Let’s dive in:

The Prompt

Write a story that investigates a turning point in your protagonist’s past.


  • Every interesting character has an internal struggle fighting with (or complementing) the external struggle of the plot. It usually stems from a character flaw/defect/protection mechanism they’ve been building for years. Use this prompt to write a story that captures the beginning of that character development.
  • If you don’t have a novel or work in progress, investigate a character from an earlier story you’ve written (or one you hope to write).

Lisa Cron’s Story Genius (referenced in the video) can be found here or requested through your local indie bookstore.

10 thoughts on “Turning Point – A writing prompt for novelists”

  1. I used this prompt to write about a character that will probably make one or few appearances in a novel I’m working on. His part of the story is crucial to the overall story, as background. He’s not. He just fulfills a necessary function. This process is making me think through the overall story and do research to fill in details as I go.

  2. I didn’t finish the scene, but I did come up with a turning point moment for my novel-in-progress and I’m happy about that. This prompt got me to consider something I hadn’t before. Woo! That’s a win!

  3. Thanks for a great prompt and video. I used the prompt to create backstory for one of my secondary characters in the shirt story I’m trying to finish by the end of May, rather than my novel. Some of it may end up in the story, but it certainly helps me with defining the character.
    The Story Genius book looks very useful, so much so I had to purchase a copy.

    1. Wonderful! Try to imagine the words in “Story Genius” spoken rapidly, with great intensity, by a not-large-but-somehow-massive dark-haired woman who has a killer dry sense of humor.

      1. And who would eat you alive if you interrupted her or asked a question! Sounds like another story prompt.

  4. STORY GENIUS is a fantastic book on the craft of writing. I read it once then read through it again, applying the exercises. The “turning point” exercises really can be written/read as short stories themselves, so it’s perfect for Story A Day. 🙂

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