Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 26: The Threshold

On Day 23 we talked about the Reversal to you character's Temporary Triumph.  Whatever power your character had has been stripped from him and all lies with the antagonist.  This is what brings your character to his knees and has him entering the "dark night of the soul" or "all hope is lost" moment.  Do not be fooled, however, into thinking this moment is a cheap trick used by novelists to keep their readers guessing at how the story will end.  No, the reversal has a much more significant role: it brings the character to the threshold.

What is the threshold?

The threshold, as defined by the absolutely amazing Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson in her YouTube series "How do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, or Screenplay,"
"...is the threshold between the middle of the story and the end of the story.  This is where the character has to assess 'how did I get into the mess that I'm in right now.'"  
It is the point just between the reversal (character has reached the lowest low) and the second turning point (character is now ready to become heroic in his efforts to resolve the problem), where the action slows down and the character must reflect back on the choices and behaviors that have led him to this point.  It is where the character stops placing blame on others and begins to take responsibility for his own role in his recent defeat.

Why is that important?

Every person has a flaw.  And if you're doing your job correctly, your character's flaw should be glaringly obvious.  In real life there are not a lot of occasions in which we are confronted with our own flaw and forced to acknowledge that the flaw has contributed in some way to our personal downfalls.  That's probably why we're not heroes in any novels.  A hero - which I assume is a role your main character will take on before the end of the story - is someone who sees what they have done wrong and, instead of blaming others, takes the responsibility and decides to change.  It is the character's development/ change/ transformation that makes him a hero, or at least makes him worth reading about.

What now?

Now that your character has sat around and had some time to think, he's ready to make his move.  He's come up with some kind of plan to overcome the antagonist, but he knows it will involve sacrifice.  Particularly the sacrifice of his flaw in favor of more heroic and selfless personality traits.  Can he do it?  Leave behind a trait or an incident in his backstory that has defined him to this point?  We've got a fourth of the book left in which to find out.

MY DAY 26:  Not much to report.  Wrote a good, solid scene and was proud of it.  Now the question remains: will it survive through all of the edits and make it in the final draft?

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