Avery asked about my cryptic little plot drawing posted earlier. Now, it's probably because of the art-thing that I relate to my plot as a graph, but the principle behind that drawing is fundamental to all dramatic narrative. I'm talking about sudden reversal.
Basically, each act in your story should end with a sudden and dramatic reversal of situation. With that drawing, I was charting my big reversals at the act climaxes. Because that's the heart of the Act: a sudden and major flip in the plot. Boy meets Girl. (yay!) Boy loses Girl. (no!) Boy gets Girl back! (YAY!) Old as the hills and just as solid.
And it's not just the Acts. Every scene will be about a reversal in some element of your plot. Every. Scene. (That's not counting Sequels, mind.)
(I've just sat here for half an hour trying to use my own WiP to show what I'm talking about, without much success. I'm too deep into it right now, so I'm going to look elsewhere for examples)
In the typical hardboiled detective story, the private eye is warned off the case (they're scared, high value) in the middle of the first Act, has the crap beaten out of him at the Act Climax, digs deeper and muddles around until the Act II climax sees him close in on the truth, usually resulting in the prospect of his emminent death.
In Silence of the Lambs, Clarice's conscious desire is to get Hannibal Lecter's help in stopping Buffalo Bill. Her unconscious, deeper, more powerful drive is for advancement.
The opening shots show her straining and struggling through a cadet obstacle course - a *very* low value for advancement. Then she gets her shot with the introduction of her conscious desire: get Lecter on board, it'll look good on your record. She enters the prison with her good bag and cheap shoes and freshly-laminated ID - her pride at this big step like a halo around her. By the end of that scene, she's been refused and mocked by Lecter and had a psycopath splatter her with semen - a distinct reversal.
But in the seeds of that humiliation lie the next reversal: Lecter dangles a clue that leads to a severed head in a storage locker. Clarice looks good again.
And so it goes. Up and down, up and down, a little bit up and a LOT further down, until her conscious desire is blown out of the water in the Act II Climax (Lecter sure as shit ain't gonna help once he's escaped!) and she's left back at the Academy with nothing.
Until she finds the notes written on the map...
As an aside, had it ever occured to you that saving the victim is in fact a subplot? Catherine isn't taken until the end of Act I, and much as Clarice may have a deep-seated childhood desire to save one lamb from screaming (hence her career choice), she doesn't seem to hold out much hope. If anything, she seems to share Crawford's opportunistic view that saving a Senator's daughter isn't the worst thing that could happen. They care about the girl, but they care about their careers too...
But I digress.
My point is, every scene you write, it should involve your conflicts headed up a little, or down a lot. Until things seem hopeless, and your hero or heroine has to dig deep to solve the problem.
You just gotta keep flipping the script!
Full Throttle Daily Wordcout-O-Meter stands at 32,100 words. I think, *think* mind you, I may who the killer is...
SF Workshop - I spent last week at a science fiction workshop taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It was freaking awesome, and if she offers it again (probably not for a c...
6 hours ago