If you are ready to write the good parts of your novel, (and believe me, your readers are ready to get to the juicy chunks, too) wrap up the beginning chapters and send your hero away from the Muggle world: the bestselling heroes 1) make preparations to leave 2) receive advice 3) say goodbye to family, and 4) board a train or plane.
1. On your mark . . .
After receiving his invitation for adventure, the hero makes preparations to set out.
- Harry Potter heads to Diagon Alley to get the magical supplies printed on his list. While Hagrid helps Harry gather his wand, cauldron, and books (like “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander”), we learn about Harry’s fame when all of the wizards recognize him. (HP Ch.5)
- Katniss goes to the Training Center before starting the Games. While in training, Katniss and Peeta “pick up some valuable skills, from starting fires, to knife throwing, to making shelter.” We learn that Katniss really is an expert hunter when Peeta tells Haymitch that she hits every squirrel in the eye without piercing the meat. (HG Ch.7).
- Bella prepares herself to enter the vampire world by contemplating whether she will love Edward even if he is not human. She does research on vampires and then heads to the woods to digest the information. “Making the decision was the painful part for me, the part I agonized over. But once the decision was made, I simply followed through– usually with relief that the choice was made.” (TW Ch.7).
2. Get ready . . .
The hero gets some advice on entering or surviving the new world.
- Harry gets advice from Mrs. Weasley on how to board the magic train: “‘Not to worry,’ she said. ‘All you have to do is walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don’t stop and don’t be scared you’ll crash into it, that’s very important. Best do it at a bit of a run if you’re nervous.'” (HP Ch.6).
- Katniss asks her mentor for advice: “‘Here’s some advice. Stay alive,’ says Haymitch, and then bursts out laughing.” (HG Ch.4).
- Bella gets a warning from Jacob and his brother about vampires: “He’d said that the Cullens didn’t come here, but his tone had implied something more — that they weren’t allowed; they were prohibited.” Later, Jacob explains that there is “always a risk for humans to be around the cold ones, even if they’re civilized like this clan was. You never know when they might get too hungry to resist.” (TW Ch.6).
3. Get set . . .
The hero says goodbye to his family.
- Harry’s goodbye with his family is not so sad. “Uncle Vernon dumped Harry’s trunk onto a cart and wheeled it into the station for him. . . . ‘Have a good term,’ said Uncle Vernon with an even nastier smile. He left without another word.” (HP Ch.6).
- After the Reaping Ceremony, there is “time allotted for the tributes to say good-bye to their loved ones.” Katniss says goodbye to her family: “And then the peacekeeper is at the door, signaling our time is up, and we’re all hugging one another so hard it hurts and all I’m saying is ‘I love you. I love you both.'” (HG Ch.3).
- Bella and her mother say goodbye before she heads to Forks: “‘I’ll see you soon,’ she insisted. ‘You can come home whenever you want — I’ll come right back as soon as you need me.’ But I could see the sacrifice in her eyes behind the promise.” (TW Ch.1).
The hero peaces out via mass transit.
- Harry Potter boards a train at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters: “A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven o’clock.” (HP Ch.6).
- Katniss’s train leaves for the Capitol: “We have to stand for a few minutes in the doorway of the train while the cameras gobble up our images, then we’re allowed inside and the doors close mercifully behind us. The train begins to move at once.” (HG Ch.3).
- Bella boards a plane from Phoenix: “She hugged me tightly for a minute, and then I got on the plane, and she was gone. It’s a four-hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, another hour in a small plan up to Port Angeles, and then an hour drive back down to Forks.” (TW Ch.1).
Use these four scenes to neatly transition your hero from the “beginning” to the “middle.” Remember, the beginning section of these popular novels accounts for only 21% of the entire book. That means every scene has got to count, from opening on a bittersweet celebration, to receiving the call to adventure, to this four step send-off. Bon Voyage!