Trauma Plan

Inciting Event: Hospital chaplain Riley summons ER doctor Jack to the chapel to help with a panic-stricken patient. Jack asks Riley to forgive him for their conflict when they initially met. In many ways, the initial meeting between Riley and Jack is the Inciting Event, but this moment is the first where they actually come together as two people who do more than just briefly meet. Even though they don’t actually begin a relationship here, this is where they first acknowledge each other beyond the surface level. This is where readers know for certain that these two characters will continue to meet one another.

First Plot Point: Jack invites Riley to come work at his clinic. Not only is this the obvious moment when the two characters are forced together into a situation that will cause them to develop a relationship, it’s also a significant plot point that pertains to both of their respective goals: Jack’s plan to use Riley’s family name to help calm the opposition to his clinic’s presence in a high-class neighborhood and Riley’s plan to use her position in Jack’s clinic as the first step back to being an ER nurse.

First Pinch Point: A purse snatcher attacks Riley in the clinic parking lot. This enforces the external antagonistic force of the violent element that is threatening the clinic. It also emphasizes both main characters’ inner antagonistic force of fear. The First Pinch Point should always be a moment that introduces new clues about the conflict. In this story, this is the first moment where readers learn there is mystery is Jack’s past, regarding his loss of someone named Abby.

Midpoint: After going out on a more-or-less friendly date, Jack and Abby share their respective traumatic pasts and kiss for the first time. Revelation is always the key element of the Midpoint, so this is the perfect place for the characters to reveal themselves to each other (and thus learn a little bit more about themselves as well). It also marks a clear shift in their relationship, from somewhat antagonistic colleagues to potential romantic partners.

Second Pinch Point: During an emergency at the clinic, Riley struggles to get a needle into a patient’s collapsing vein. This is a great Pinch Point scene on a couple of levels. To begin with, it’s a taut, “big” scene that does its job of breaking up the overall story and keeping the pacing tight. And like the First Plot Point, it nicely emphasizes the external antagonistic force (the conflict about the clinic–which caused the patient’s injury) and Riley’s personal, internal conflict (the obstacle her own injuries are putting between her and her goal of once again working as an ER nurse).

Third Plot Point: Riley’s application for a position as triage nurse is turned down. This low moment in the plot is always symbolic of death in some way. In some stories, it will often feature the actual death of a character who is close to the protagonist. In other, comparatively low-key, stories, such as this one, the death may take another form. In this instance, it represents Riley’s “professional death.” This is where she must finally face up to the finality of the fact that her career as an ER nurse is over–and she is appropriately crushed by it.

Climax: The Climax will almost always begin with a new revelation. Often, this will just be the protagonist’s personal revelation and resolution to do whatever needs to be done to end the conflict. But it’s great when a new, final clue can also come into play. Here, Riley discovers Jack was a murder suspect. This was appropriately foreshadowed throughout. The only qualm here would be that the revelation doesn’t actually affect the plot in any momentous way. Riley breaks up with Jack, but really it’s only a momentary thing. The external events of the Climax are all about fire at the clinic and the discovery of the man who was really responsible for the murder of Jack’s friend Abby.

Climactic Moment: In a romance, the heart of the conflict is always about the primary relationship–not the external conflict. So the Climactic Moment here is when Jack and Riley make up and resolve to pursue a relationship. The finale of the external conflict, with the capture of the arsonist and murder suspect is ultimately extraneous to the main plot and therefore its culmination is not the true Climactic Moment.

Resolution: Jack’s clinic reopens and he asks Riley to marry him.

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