Now that we're into week three of actually writing we're ready to think about the reversal for our character's temporary triumph from the end of Act II, Part One. The reader can't be duped, of course, into believing the triumph will last; they can see there is still half a book left in which the main character is most certainly going to be getting into more trouble. This is the point at which you show the reader they were right.
According to Victoria Lynn Schmidt there are several ways a reversal can occur. I've used her list of potential reversals (from page 158 of Book In a Month) followed by an example in popular literature.
New information comes into play
- Jane Eyre is a governess who is in love with her employer. When he confesses he loves her too, he proposes marriage and they are happily engaged for over a month (triumph). At the altar the wedding is brought to an abrupt end by a man who claims that Jane's employer is already married and that the woman is in fact living in the very home where Jane has been serving as governess (reversal).
- In the movie The Village, Ivy Walker and Lucius Hunt have just confessed their love for each other and become engaged to be married (triumph). They have only one evening to enjoy their happiness before Noah, a handicapped boy who has always loved Ivy, goes and stabs Lucius because of jealousy (reversal).
- In the film Up, Carl meets his childhood hero, Charles Muntz, who saves Carl from a pack of menacing dogs, then invites him to dinner (triumph). Halfway through dinner Charles realizes Carl has been taking care of an exotic bird that Charles has spent his whole life searching for. Now his attitude changes; he doesn't trust Carl and he even attempts to chase him down in order to get the bird from him (reversal).
- In the movie Miss Congeniality, the police are able to find and arrest the man they believe is responsible for threatening to bomb the beauty pageant (triumph). Sandra Bullock's character doesn't believe they've caught the right man, but since the rest of the bureau are not convinced, she is left behind alone to uncover the real killer (reversal).
- In The Italian Job Stella is asked on a date by the very man who murdered her father. She accepts, planning to stand him up so that she and her team can break into his house and steal his gold (triumph). When the team shows up at his house they see the next door neighbors are having a large party - too many potential witnesses. Now Stella has to go on the dreaded date, during the course of which, her father's killer realizes who she is and that he's being set up (reversal).
- In the movie The Gift, Cate Blanchett's character sees visions that allow her to find the body of a missing girl, and aid in the arrest of the girl's supposed killer (triumph). Then Blanchett sees another vision which makes her realize the man behind bars is not the girl's killer (reversal).
- The newer movie Puss In Boots, Puss and his childhood friend Humpty Alexander Dumpty work together to steal the golden goose of Jack and the Beanstalk fame. They make it down the beanstalk with the goose and are dancing around a fire in celebration, surrounded by golden eggs (triumph). The next day Puss's friends have gone missing and when he tracks them back to his hometown he is handed over to the town's guards by the traitor Humpty (reversal).
Check out the Reversal Brainstorm Worksheet (scroll down to page 275) to begin planning how to bring an end to your character's short-lived contentedness.
MY DAY 23: Despite my best efforts I realized there was no way I would be finishing the manuscript by the end of the 30 day challenge. I hope that by giving you a week of prep time prior to the actual writing this will not be a problem for the rest of you.