Sunday, April 25, 2010
Act 1 Part 2 #thatdoesn'tsoundweird #right?
For any new readers...
This is the second piece regarding Act 1. We are using the 7 Act Structure to justify my ramblings on about the fundamentals of the Hero's Arc and how it affects... you know... what you write down on the page :-)
We left our poor hero being offered the Opportunity. He, of course, rejected it out of hand.
Why would he do such a thing?
While a part of him is in deep denial about his inner wound, there is an equal part of him that is aware of it and fears it can never be healed. This part of him can sense that the Opportunity is a potent elixir that they fear will kill them rather than heal them.
So, the hero tries to go back to his 'old life.' You know, the one before your story got a hold of him. But it doesn't fit right, damn it.
If he used to sleep with scanky ho's they don't satisfy him. If he was content as his job as a store clerk, the work now chafes.
The universe, angered at his refusal now punishes him by making his life a living hell.
This section of your work is normally 15% of the total page count. (for a 500 page book that is about 75 pages, if a script about 15-20).
Remember right after a major occurrence such as the Opportunity, you have 'bought' yourself some time to do some softer work, character, scene setting, setting up a later pay-off.
You can probably do this right after the action settles down from him rejecting the Opportunity, but very quickly you need to start directing your hero towards accepting his lot in life.
Now the Opportunity normally looks like exactly the OPPOSITE of what the hero outwardly desires. If he wants sex, the opportunity represents love. If he wants money, the opportunity is to work with homeless people.
He can't see past the nose on his face.
The exception to this rule is that normally found in comedies. In this case the Opportunity can look EXACTLY like what the Hero wants. He wants money? Well, then he just inherited the biggest mansion on the hill.
Of course it turns out to be haunted or is located on American Indian sacred land, or something else horrible. In this case, the secret behind the opportunity is the true opportunity.
In the case of the 'tricking' our hero into taking the opportunity this section of your story involves everyone and anyone trying to warn him away from taking it until he finally throws in his lot against everyone's objections (except perhaps the magician who knows the secret behind the opportunity).
In most stories however, this section is filled with the Hero resisting any and every effort to get him to take the Opportunity. But the universe is at work behind the scenes, making him miserable.
This section becomes a pressure cooker, hammering at your Hero until finally, in the end, he can't stay in his old life any more and MUST take the Opportunity.
Many times in this section the magician is introduced to help spiritually guide the Hero. Many times the Love Interest also makes an appearance to tempt him into his new life.
The point of this section is to create conflict and tension. The more the Hero resists the Opportunity, them faster and harder he will be propelled into the second Act.
Do not go easy on him!!!!!!
The decision to take the Opportunity must be torture! He must not willingly go into his new life unless he is being tricked!
Alright then, that pretty much wraps up the first 1/4 of your story!
And did you see all those stepping stones that story structure gave you. Practically every page along Act 1, you know what has to happen!
So no excuses! WRITE!!!!!!!
Check to see how much resistance your Hero put up to the Opportunity. If he didn't scrape his fingernails and knuckles clutching so hard to his old life, then you weren't rough enough! :-)