The Bigger Debate
At this point in your hero’s journey, they are at their lowest. They’ve been thoroughly thwarted. So, they need to ponder their previous choices and actions.
When we are stuck, we go back and recall what we did previously to attain our goals to understand why it didn’t work or why we failed. Just like your hero, we come up with a better solution. Eventually, your hero will realize what they need—the next plot point—but right now, they are in the review and analyze stage.
There infinite ways you can have your hero assess their actions. In a movie, this is where many times the character will ‘think’ in flashbacks of a few seconds each, to recap and see where the errors were made. Their flashbacks become longer the closer they get to the truth and realize what they need. Since you are not writing or editing a movie, you need to write these ‘flashback’ scenes differently.
Consider taking your hero back to their original world, if possible, to see how much or how little they have changed. Maybe they realize they don’t belong in their hometown anymore, or maybe they wanted their journey to change them, but no one sees them as a changed person.
Possibly, they do have flashbacks in your novel. They can go back over conversations in their head. In this case, you will pull quotes from earlier in the novel. Other ways are using something visual that sparks a memory—a swing, playground, piece of jewelry—or recapping a situation.
Bobbie sat alone in his room, crying over losing his best friend. What did I do wrong? What did Joe mean when he said, ‘That’s not all you did.’ Does he think I didn’t meet him because I forgot? I didn’t forget. I had something more important to do. He kicked the chair over, threw his books on the floor, and screamed. He fell back on his bed, and his eyes fell on a picture of the two of them when they were six. Jo was holding up the fish he caught that day. That day was the first day they’d gone fishing, and for 10 years, they had fished in the same river on the same day. Only now did Bobbie realize, his best friend was more important than the random girl he met outside the bait shop. She had turned out to be trouble. Deep down, he knew that from the start. When she came up to him and stroked his arm, he knew.
See how I used internal thought, a picture, and a previous situation to create flashbacks? I know it isn’t the best example. But that is why I am an editor and you are the writer. I find it easier to identify and suggest ways to make scenes more effective. You are the creator, the artist.