Doorway to Act II

open doorsI was reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and it talks about the three structure act. It talks about moving from Act I to Act II through a doorway.

The key question to ask yourself is this: Can my Lead walk away from the plot right now and go on as he has before? If the answer is yes, you haven’t gone through the first doorway yet.

Further, the book says this should happen at or before at the 1/5 point of the book. This is an interesting way to look at transitioning from the beginning to the middle, IMO. I hadn’t considered the transition like that before, but more like the number of pages from the beginning of the book.

And, you know, if it feels like middle. But that’s not a quantifiable feeling. How would you quantify it anyway?

I have never really paid attention to when I feel like I’m in the middle of a book as opposed to the beginning. But according to this definition, it should happen when the plot feels inevitable. Like, something has happened and nothing will ever be the same.

Do you agree? Do you this doorway separates the beginning from the middle? And does it usual happen at or before the 1/5 mark?

I suspect this is something I’ll be a lot more aware of when reading now. I was rereading Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K.

guilty-pleasures-by-lkh-book-coverHamilton and you know what? It is true. In Guilty Pleasures, this doorway happens when a close friend of the main character is harmed/threatened by the vampires. This happened pretty much when 1/5 of the book was done. So it works in one book.

But Guilty Pleasures is structured like a thriller. Question is, does it work for other thriller style books? And other non-thriller style books?

 

Procrastinate

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Funny Procrastination Image!

What do you do to procrastinate?

I’ve been doing it most of the day.

1) Web Browsing

The web is a giant pile of quick sand. First, I was reading responses to Junot Diaz’s essay on how white the MFA program is. (I was a little shocked at how dismissive some of the comments.) Than I found myself reading other things, like stuff on spring allergies.

2) Candy Crush, and its close cousin: Pet Rescue

This could be worse. I could lose hours and hours playing this instead of only an hour or two. That’s because it comes with five lives, and once those are gone, you have to wait a while to gain more. Though I also have 2048 Puzzle now, so we shall see.

3) YouTube.

Music videos and other stuff.

Then I thought enough is enough. Time to write. There is still time to post a blog post today.

How do you procrastinate?

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Friday Flash: Purple Oil Flowers

I don’t know where this come from and I had a little trouble with it, but it’s done.

 

Purple oil flowers covered the landscape as far she could see. A money maker, these fields, but so far from any shops.
 
She cast a longing glance to the west, past the big tree, picturing the town miles down the road. Her brother would be meeting with PurpleFlow’s finance people right about now. Her job was to babysit the flowers.
 
Too bad they needed nothing from her. The flowers were like a weed. They would grow anywhere at all, as long they had the right soil. But that was her secret.
 
She sighed, tucked her matching PurpleFlow phone into her jean pockets and went out to make a soil check.
 
The soil compost containers were stacked against the back walls. Faint whimpers emanated from the last, top-most crate. She detoured to check on it.
 
The young man looked fine. His blood trickled into the soft, black soil. His hazel eyes were dazed from the pain, but his still struggled against his chains. His wrists, elbows, knees and ankles were rubbed raw, but that didn’t matter. She’d made small holes in his limbs so the blood drained slowly. Too much would ruin the soil.
 
But the whimpering! She grabbed a ball gag she’d left in the box for just such occasions and stuffed it into his mouth. The strap cut into his mouth, but she didn’t care.
 
She petted the top of his matted, stiff hair and closed the crate lid. The bottom one was ready; the boy in there was just a skeleton now. She filled a container with the soil and set off to fertilize her fields.

X is for X Placeholder

X_GI use X as a placeholder. His friend X, Uncle X, baby X, pet X, and event X and so on.

Lots of times I don’t know what the character’s name is and I don’t have time to go searching baby name websites for a good name. So the picture-placeholder-femalecharacter becomes X on the page. It’s a silent reminder to find a name later.

It’s the same thing for scenes. Sometimes I’ll be writing and I need a scene to show something somewhere in the middle of the story. I’ll insert Scene X in big bold letters wherever the scene needs to be.

As for why X and not A or – or some other symbol as a placeholder? I don’t really know. I suppose X represents the unknown to me. No doubt this is a result of spending years in the classroom being told to Find X.

How do you deal with unknown characters?

V

V danced for the crowd. The red folds of her dress swirled around her, sometimes obscuring her from the crowd, sometimes revealing her.

The crowd chanted her name: Red V. V. V. Red!

The music thrummed through, a counter point to her own nature, named for her. Venom.

The crowd swayed with her.

She twirled over the stage, her bare feet pounding the floorboards. Thump. Step. Thump. Leap.

With each step the venom in her music spread. One by one the people in the crowd crashed like felled trees.

Only one man was left standing. The reason she was here. The reason for these destroyed lives.

He grinned and jumped atop the nearest body. But the music didn’t stop and she didn’t stop moving.

Soon he, too, fell.

She was free! She turned one last somersault and landed on his chest.

U is for Unchangeable and Unchanging Characters

Some characters are unchangeable, unchanging, and in fact, have no business changing.

This isn’t the normal thing that is taught in writing classing and it is not the normal writing advice given. But, months after watching the Skyfall, I have become convinced of the truth of it.

I blogged about Skyfall after I saw the movie. I don’t mention it in the post, but I feel like this movie hurt Bond’s icon status.

In this movie, 1) Bond grows older and 2) also has a past, complete with parents and big house.

Someone asked me how it was and I replied: emotional. Which is damn odd for a James Bond movie.

Before this movie he was the Man of Mystery. He had no past, no future, few connections to people other than a bevy of Bond Girls in each and every movie.

The only movie he ever changed in was the one where the girl he was in love with betrayed him and broke his heart. Nothing otherwise.

Every writing class, most every piece of writing advice will say that characters need to grow. Good stories have characters that grow and change.

I feel like someone tried to do exactly that to James Bond in Skyfall and it failed.

I feel like him getting shot by friendly fire, retiring in the Caribbean, and coming back vastly off his game were attempts to give him a character arc he wouldn’t have otherwise. I also feel like he doesn’t need to have a character arc necessarily.

James Bond is an icon. No need to mess with that.

Or if they insist, they ought to have done it slower. Lots slower. The character development should have been done at a snail’s pace, over a number of movies. That might have worked. As it is, I just feel like they were trying to shoehorn a past and development and all that jazz into his character.

Also, at the end of Skyfall, he says he’s ready for the next mission at the end and its business as usual. So, yeah.

I have to reconsider if I even want to see the next James Bond (comes out next year!) in theaters. If it is like Skyfall, than maybe not.