Dropping ‘Bombs’: What it means to your story (with spoilers for #WheelerNovel)

An episode of Stargate SG-1 was on the Comet channel the other night, specifically the two-parter, “Heroes.” This episode was mostly by the view of a documentary team, led by a reporter who made himself very unpopular with the SG teams. The story culminates with highly respected but minor character, Dr. Janet Frasier, being killed suddenly and Daniel Jackson catching it on tape.


This led me to a discussion with my husband on our drive to the Lehigh Valley Velodrome (really cool place for cycling action btw) about one of the major bombs in the **as yet unnamed sequel to Wheeler. If you read the first book, you already know I lob a few hand grenades, little details here and there, about the main character’s past before dropping the major ones. With the follow-up novel, there are still a few bombs to drop and one has been influenced by this particular SG-1 episode.

What I mean about dropping bombs is that there need to be (at least) three major surprises in your novel to keep the tension going. As writer, Mia Botha puts it in her post,

In total, you should have five plot points, or surprises.

  1. The Inciting Moment – Gives you the goal
  2. Surprise One – Things get worse and the goal changes or stays the same, but the odds are increased.
  3. Surprise Two –It can’t get much worse than this and the goal changes or stays the same, but the odds increase again.
  4. Surprise Three – Did I just say that things can’t get worse? This is the Dark Night of the Soul.
  5. The End – Wraps it all up in a satisfying manner.”

It’s those surprises, the bombs, that up the ante and build the suspense. In Wheeler, I probably went a little overboard with the bombing. (***major spoilers***)

Inciting moment: Loren’s lead rider, Evette Nadal, is taken out by a collision with a teammate and a rider from another team. This event forces Loren to take the reins.

(minor) Bomb 1: Loren has a finger-breaking reaction to Felix’s advances, and when she tells Graham about her past relationship with Felix.

(minor) Bomb 2: Loren’s crash at the Giro Rosa and Felix’s attempts at manipulation.

(major) Bomb 3: 19 August. I won’t go into detail here but suffice it say it’s the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ worthy.

(major) Bomb 4: Graham’s confrontation with Loren before the World Championships.

The End: In Wheeler, it’s a ‘happy for now’ ending which some have found not so satisfying. I am sorry about that, but similar to my favorite Marvel movies, you might want to check past the ‘credits’ for a little hint.

Now, getting back to the SG-1 episode and it’s influence on the final chapters of my second book, there’s a point where a Dr. Frasier-like character could be killed off. As I play the scene out in my mind, having this well-liked-by-readers although minor, character die would be a hell of a bomb to drop and it would provide a way to end that particular story arc.

However, it might send my protagonist over the edge and I’m of two minds as to whether to do that to her, and myself. Then again, it brings her life full circle so to speak, if I can somehow bring the two ends together. Ah, the life of a dreamer!



**I’m taking suggestions on titles.

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