A Trick: The "Fake" PE

Twilight, a fabulously successful book, begins with her moving to a new state to live with her father. That seems like an obvious precipitating event.

But is it? Really, this is a romance, and the precipitating event is seeing Edward. It's a slow reveal. And, really, before that is life as normal.

So I'm inviting you to see Twilight as having a life-as-normal start. Even though no one would think that except me and possibly you.

But that perspective reveals a trick for handling the life-as-normal start: Start the book with an event that could be seen as the precipitating event.

For another example of this consider The Princess Diaries. The book starts with a problem: The main character's algebra teacher is dating her mother. That was hardly a problem the reader could become attached to; it was obviously a "fake" problem that the reader knew wasn't a real problem. But it was at least a problem.

So the "fake PE" is something new about the character's life. A new school. A new job. An insight, or a sudden disatisfaction. And the "something new" could be a fault line or intimation.

In that light, consider the classic start to a detective novel, the dame walking in with a problem. That leads to an investigation of something, which leads to a murder. It's pretty natural to call the dame the PE and the murder just an escalation of the problem. But the story doesn't really start until the murder; the murder carries the reader through the book.

So the dame is just a fake-precipitating event. And now the events between that and the murder are showing life as normal for the detective.