Monday, November 9, 2009

Crash Course on Craft: Hero’s Journey, Part 5

“Smile. Things could be worse.”

So sure enough, the hero smiles—usually with gritted teeth—and things get worse. Much worse.

Welcome to the second act of story.

Often the First Threshold decision is a protagonist’s desperate attempt to right his world. But often it does anything but right the world. In fact, it usually throws the characters head long into deeper trouble—and now they can’t go back for they’ve crossed the Point of No Return.

Instead they find themselves in the throes of circumstances that chip away at their confidence and erode their competence (the stage of Tests), often in a set of three. Then another Y in the road will emerge, forcing the character to make another life-changing—and plot-driving—decision.

Will he give up, turn back, losing everything he has worked so hard to attain and all hope of fulfilling the desire that drove him here? Or will he plunge ahead to confront what stands in his way?

To the reader, the choice is obvious—no plunge, no story. But the characters must be given the chance to decide. They must have no one to blame but themselves. They must have the chance, now knowing the cost, to walk away. But if the author has done his job, the desire—and the cost of forever losing that desire—must override the cost of going on, thrusting the characters straight into the heart of enemy territory (Approach to the Cave).

No comments: