Posted by Erika Beebe
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Thank you Raimey!
I don’t know many people who run into drama and maximal conflict with their arms wide-open, ready to face off with someone near and dear to them, ready to cut them off or curse them to infinity and beyond, excited about being alone because trust is something we no longer know.
Welcome to the world of writing ACT II.
In 90 Days to Your Novel, Sarah Domet states, in real life, we are “conflict adverse … We strive to stay out of trouble and make decisions to bring us as close as possible to our desired outcomes … unless seriously provoked.”
I reread this page just yesterday. I reread it over and over because finally, I’ve been given permission to do a very hard thing for me, create tension, difficult tension, which might really hurt the characters we breathe life into.
ACT I is the introduction to your character and the world. ACT II is what Domet calls “the story.”
In the Hunger Games … ACT I shows us Katniss as a realistic survivor whose mission is to provide for her younger sister because her father is dead and her mother lost herself while grieving. Katniss has one trusted friend with the same survival mission. Life is as it is. Then suddenly she finds herself at the name drawing ceremony when a boy and girl will enter an Olympian style fight to the death. Her younger sister is selected. Shocked, Katniss volunteers to take her place. ACT II begins on the train on the way to capital where she’s exposed to her wildest fantasies of food, clothing and the comforts of what was once an unattainable lifestyle. Her perception of what she is has to change. She must become pretty and fake. She must make allies of people she may one day kill. Survival is not just about skill anymore, and can she play a different version of herself to survive for her sister against her internal nature?
In Jane Eyre … Act I is all about a young ordinary orphan growing up devote to her christian faith and unwilling to compromise her internal character. Finally free of a hateful aunt and an orphanage, she takes a well respected position as a governess. ACT II is all about her conversations with a sour older patron of the home. Unexpectedly, she develops feelings for the patron. When she finds out he loves her too, she falls hard and her love challenges her internal strength and christian devotion where she must ultimately make the choice between her faith and her strength, or, the only love she’s ever known.
How do we take away what our characters want the most?
- According to 90 Days to Your Novel, the best place to start is a timeline of events between ACT 1 and ACT 2.
- Note the plot points of wants and needs.
- Ask yourself how you keep your character from getting what he or she truly wants along the way.
- Ask yourself, What continues to keep her/him from getting it and how can I deepen the conflict?
- How does the character motive and wants contribute to the action into deeper conflict?
- Lastly, what points are left to get him or her to the climax, when finally you are free of ACT II.
Remember, bad things happen to all of us. Bad things must happen to your beloved characters. So as you write through ACT II remember this: Don’t give your MC this deep want or desire. ACT III is the choice of this attainment.