Storming

Inciting Event: When bodies fall in front of Hitch’s plane, one of the survivors is the eccentric Jael, who speaks English well enough to insist he help her escape a strange figure named Zlo by flying her back home to the sky. Hitch steals a plane and finds himself back on the wrong side of the corrupt sheriff who insists Hitch owes him $500.

First Plot Point: A freak summer storm hits, and Hitch flies to Jael’s rescue as she does battle with Zlo to protect her mysterious pendant. Zlo rises into the storm aboard an elevator contraption and commands lightning to strike Hitch’s plane. Hitch follows Zlo and glimpses a huge flying machine—which Jael calls Schturming.

Hitch strikes a deal with Jael: he’ll help her find Schturming if she’ll use her wing-walking skills to help win the airshow. Meanwhile, he befriends his sister-in-law’s mute little boy Walter—even though she warned Hitch to stay away, because she blames him for her sister’s death.

First Pinch Point: The turning point comes when Jael agrees to join Hitch’s act—and helps him qualify for the contest. The pinch comes when Hitch’s sister-in-law Aurelia reveals Zlo has promised to return and attack Scottsbluff, in search of Jael’s pendant.

Midpoint: In the middle of the airshow, Schturming reveals itself: a giant dirigible in possession of a machine that can control weather. Zlo uses Schturming to destroy some of the planes and take the town hostage: he wants money and Jael’s pendant, without which he can’t fully control the weather.

Second Pinch Point: Hitch helps organize an assault on the dirigible, but Zlo brings horrible storms and destroys most of the planes. Hitch’s family blames him, and he has a falling out with them—especially his brother, with whom he gets into a fistfight. He finally realizes how much he has hurt everyone by running away.

Third Plot Point: After a false victory in which Hitch helps bring down Schturming and capture Zlo, Zlo reveals that it was all ploy. He escapes prison and takes back control of Schturming. He captures Walter and kills Aurelia. Hitch learns Walter is, in fact, his son, born without his knowledge before his wife died.

Climax: Desperate to save his only remaining chance at a family, Hitch accepts Jael’s help and lands his biplane aboard Schturming. They cripple the dirigible, but are captured by Zlo.

Climactic Moment: Hitch makes the choice to send Walter and Jael to safety in his plane, while he enters a final fight with Zlo and stays behind to pilot the dirigible to a landing.

Resolution: Back on the ground, he unmasks the corrupt sheriff, even thought it means he will lose his freedom and go to jail for his own crooked past. After he is released several weeks later, he makes up with his family and tells Walter he wants to stay in Nebraska and be his father. He and Jael sign help start up a new local airshow, where they can work together.

Notes: I feel this is my best and most deliberately structured novel to date—but the two structural elements I was still working out while writing this book were the Inciting Event and the Pinch Point. If I were writing this today, I probably would have designed them as stronger turning points rather than the comparatively light touches they are. But overall, I’m extremely happy with how this book turned out.

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