Working on the new effort (BURIED), I notice one of the problems I had in the first draft of the last effort. As always, it got me thinking...
1st Principle of Action: Humans are lazy creatures. We don't want to work harder than we have to, even in pursuit of our heart's desires.
Or, in the words of the Red Dragon from BONE, "Never play an Ace when a two will do."
Every single character in your story, no matter their goal, will start by doing the least action to get the job done, as perceived by that character. To pump a guy for information, a barmaid might flirt. An affable detective might tell a disarming story about his wife's cooking while a hard-ass cop might start with 'you want to go to jail'. Marv from SIN CITY starts interrogating a hitman with a stab wound in the gut and the promise that death will be swift. For each of these, this is the quickest, simplest way to get the information they want. (In Marv's case, what's the point slapping a tough guy around for hours and making promises you both know aren't true?)
2nd Principle of Action: These actions will be frustrated. At least, they will unless you want the shortest, boringest (yes, boringest-- it's cromulent) story ever told. 'I tried something aand it worked' simply isn't a story.
Girl likes Boy. Girl casts shy glance at Boy in halls at school. Boy stops, asks Girl out. They date. The END.
Even The Little Engine That Could had more conflict and interest than that. Those first actions cannot succeed. If Boy walks past like Girl doesn't exist, she's going to have to do something else. You've got something started.
3rd Principle of Action: Action escalates. Both 12-steppers and business-seminar types agree, repeating unsuccessful actions is the very definition of insanity. I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, but it sure will kill your story dead.
Your characters want their goals, and they want them badly. Badly enough to do whatever it takes to reach them. In real life, we may take a few hesitant passes at shallow goals and quit. Those aren't the days you tell the grandkids about. 'Let me tell you about the time I joined a gym and went for three weeks' doesn't pack nearly the punch of 'Let me tell you about the time I avenged the death of the only person who was ever kind to me,' or even 'I remember when I was your age, I was crazy about this boy...'
As each action is frustrated, your character will make a harder, more difficult effort (as perceived by that character) to reach that goal. In comedy, those actions lead to farce. In action, to bigger and rougher fights. In drama, to difficult choices. And, of course, there's no reason a story can't be any combination of these, even all three.
But I digress. The point is, your character (heroes as well as villains) will keep plugging.
Boy ignores Girl's shy glances. She tells a friend, hoping to do that my-friend-likes-you thing. The friend likes him too and lies about Boy's rejection. Girl follows Boy, trying to figure out how to MAKE Boy like her. This creeps Boy out.
Will Girl get a makeover? Dive deep into Boy's favorite hobby so they have a common interest? Drink too much and make an ass of herself at a party? I don't know, not my story. But you can bet whatever she does, it'll top the last thing.
4th Principle of Action: In the immortal words of Less Than Jake, It Gets Worse Before It's All Over.
Your poor bastards are going to be stumped, stymied, blocked at every turn. Their best efforts sweep them farther and farther from their heartfelt desires. The poor, shy Girl gets teased for being creepy. Her lying-ass friend spreads cruel rumors. Boy thinks she's a stalker. Faced with rumors of stalking and possible Columbine-behavior, (how big of a bitch IS that friend, anyway?) school counselors get involved, and Girl is suspended.
How is she going to get Boy? I don't know, but you can bet she's going to have to dig deep, and do something she never would have though possible at the story's start.
It's going to be a time to tell the grandkids about... Day 9: The Full-Throttle Daily Wordcount-O-Meter stands at 10,500 words.
On track and, actually, not working too hard. We'll see how I feel in Act II...