Thursday 2 December 2010

That Old Act 2 Thing

Completely re-writing act 2. What a nightmare. But you know what I'd almost forgotten? I wasn't making things hard enough for my protagonist.

He's in a situation where he thinks he's in control. Due to his inexperience and surrounding forces, he's not. Well, not as much as he thinks he is. Conflicting ideas and people are gathering around him in such a way as to make his quest damn near impossible. And these are the elements which spark further change in him. Qualities he already possesses deep down, unbeknownst to him, will come to the surface and overtake his outward appearance. His petulance and impetuousness, which he regards as positive in the first half of the story, will be smashed by the very characters he is trying to impress and/or help. Good thing too as their own behaviour will prove to be their undoing as they make the protagonist stronger by underestimating the hero and bringing his better qualities to the surface.

So I need to make it harder for him. Disappointment, realisation of hard facts and eventually an extraordinary calamity have to make him the man he will be. He wants to be a man; he just doesn't realise what it takes to really become one in the world he lives in.

But there is always a cost, or should be in some way, I feel. Possibly losing some kind of attachment, be it a friend, lover or object. I think a protagonist, in this traditional sense at least, should be able to find some kind of balance at the end of a story, finding their way by shedding certain elements of their life, voluntarily or not. Luke Skywalker might rescue Princess Leia, blow up the Death Star and become a hero of the Rebel Alliance but he still loses his family (Owen and Beru), best friend (Biggs) and mentor (Obi Wan) to the enemy.

Loss of innocence is a good one, I think, especially in this instance. What I'm writing isn't just a historical epic or period adventure or a love story. While it's all three of the above, at it's heart it's a coming of age tale, all centred around a boy who is finding the world is not what he was taught it really was and that not everyone is who they claim to be. It's got to be seen through the eyes of one person so the audience can learn about the complicated world as the hero does, experience those changes and emotions as he does, without getting bogged down in the horrid exposition that plagued the previous draft.

I know what the protagonist has to lose to find his way in this story. It's getting to those parts which is the task at hand. But how much of a shit can I be to my character?

Taking this on board, it's back to act 2 and hopefully something resembling a finished draft.

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