Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Act 2 – The “Meat” of your story

As I mentioned yesterday, Act 2 is huge because it has to be huge. A lot happens because it really is its own ‘mini-book’ within your book.

Act 1 was your Hero’s life before your story. Act 2 is his life IN your story.

So as you can imagine you are nearly beginning your novel again.

Why? Because the Opportunity usually moves your Hero away from his ‘comfort’ zone and home which requires you to set up a completely new setting, a completely new job, a completely new world.

And he doesn’t know the rules to this new world, so this is really the beginning of his mentoring (either by the Magician, the Love Interest, Villain, or the Universe).

This is act where we focus on character and putting all the mechanisms in place for the climax of your story.

Now, the first part of Act 2 is all about introducing your Hero to his new life and offering him “The Hero’s Mantle,” or continue the “Call to Action.”

Your Hero is asked to be well, a Hero. He, of course, declines. He’s no hero. He’s just a guy that wanted a quick rich scheme.

But luckily for us there’s a villain that wants to kick your Hero’s booty. And do so he does, driving up the stakes, putting everyone in more danger as we drive towards the “Tentpole.”

The middle of your story needs a MAJOR action piece. It needs to look and feel like this is the END. Your Hero truly believes if he can just win this one, everything will be fine.

So, of course, he doesn’t. As a matter of fact, he gets his ass kicked and kicked hard.

He loses whatever faith he had. He feels broken and even more certain that he is not the Hero everyone else thinks he is.

Many times he will decide to ‘go it alone’ and pull a lone wolf thing, which of course only endangers everyone he loves more.

Many times at the Tentpole the Magician is lost (dead or apparently dead). Also the love interest may be kidnapped here or at the Turn of the Act.

We must strip the Hero of his resources so he can figure out who he is.

As we drive towards the Turn of Act 2 things go from bad to worse, to horrible to Armageddon. The stakes are no longer our Hero dying, but the world (or at least his world).

If he hasn’t lost or walked away from the Magician, Love Interest, and Side-kick by now, he needs to.

Your darkest hour (the moments before the turn of the act) must be filled with desperation and hopelessness.

Alright, that’s the overview of the act. Tomorrow we will start to break down the act into nice little bite sized pieces.

Your Assignment: If you’ve written your Act 2, check where your ‘Tentpole” is (the climax of the action should be within 15% of your mid-way point) and how awesome is it.

Did you raise the stakes enough? Does it feel like it should be the climax? Or is it simply a pale imitation of your climax?

Again, I’m looking for feedback to this series of blogs so I’m having a little contest.

I am going to pick a random commenter from the week and give them a free evaluation of their Act 1 turn.

So comment away (I am only counting 1 per day and since I’m like this, I am only picking the winner from a pool of couchant comments. If you write “You rock!” while true, will not be in the pool. I am looking to expand the conversation ☺)

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