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djutmose
December 14th, 2004, 01:24 PM
I know I remember reading somewhere, an analysis of a contemporary plot structure that gives the character two successive goals, or changes the focus midway … ? Can’t find it again, though.

I am very interested in this because my current WIP does this. The hero is on a frantic quest to save the woman he loves from her sister, who leads a violent rebel group. He does rescue her, but in the process he learns that the rebels have a powerful weapon. In the second half of the book, he and his rescued true love must now throw themselves into danger again to try and find the bad guy HQ (and the weapon) before it is too late.

The classic plot structure has the hero struggling with one problem throughout, facing progressive complications until the end. But my book isn’t that simple, really …The hero has one goal, but once he achieves it there is a “bigger picture” and a bigger threat. Rescuing his lover is vital to defeating the bad guys in the end (they need to pool their talents and use the unique link between them), but he doesn’t know that until much later on.

I am trying to think of further examples of such stories …can anyone help? Star Wars (the original, Ep. IV) comes to mind …similar to my story in that they have to rescue Princess Leia, but the problem then becomes destroying the Death Star. Also, Fellowship of the Ring—Frodo originally thinks his quest is to get the ring to Rivendell so that more experienced folks can deal with it, but then he learns the truth and takes it upon himself to bring it to Mordor to be destroyed. In that case, though, the second quest is more of an extension of the first …whereas Star Wars has a real secondary problem/goal.

My biggest concern is handling the transition between goal A and B. The usual way seems to have a briefing/expository session to re-orient the audience to the new problem/goal. In Star Wars, it’s the Death Star attack briefing; in Fellowship of the Ring, the Council of Elrond. What else makes for a good transition? How does one avoid losing tension during this transition process?

Thanks for your attention, would welcome any thoughts on this---Dean

Dawnstorm
December 14th, 2004, 01:58 PM
My biggest concern is handling the transition between goal A and B. The usual way seems to have a briefing/expository session to re-orient the audience to the new problem/goal. In Star Wars, it’s the Death Star attack briefing; in Fellowship of the Ring, the Council of Elrond. What else makes for a good transition? How does one avoid losing tension during this transition process?

You could try this:
During the rescue, let your character stumble across "hints", little details and such, that he doesn't much care about, but that slowly amount to a mass he can't ignore, when he finally gets the one info that lets all the other bits make sense. Like he's riding an avalanche, but doesn't know it.

Examples: Metal workers could have to work harder, magicians or scholars or sientists or whatever could have been conscripted... During the first part these details will look like world building; details for the sake of setting, until everything falls into place.

Then there's the "mysterious character who knows but doesn't tell" device (Japanese RPGs just love that one).

JRMurdock
December 14th, 2004, 02:40 PM
You may want to read some Clive Cussler as he does this a lot. Save the girl then find out you need to save the world.

Unless I'm mistaken, this also happens with Bond at time. Save the world from one minor threat only to find out it's part of a bigger threat.

It's a tried and true plot.

For the transition, that's up to you on how smooth you want it to be. Do you give lots of hints to lead the characters (and reader) there or do you want it to hit like a thunderbolt. BAM! Danger lurks. It really is up to you.

Wildeblood
December 14th, 2004, 08:13 PM
Try a google search for "nine act screenplay".

As for the moment of truth when the hero, and cinema audience, learn that things are not really how they believed them to be, it's usually done with two sentences of dialogue isn't it?

"We're here to rescue you!"

"No wait! We can't go yet, they've put a bomb (wherever)!"

Or something like:

"Luke, I'm your sister."

(stunned) "Sister?"

Der, Luke. That one was a bit lame, Luke might never have realized, but cinema audiences figured it out about eight years before. Anyway, it shouldn't take more than two sentences to reveal that the damsel in distress is really the witch in disguise. Longer than that and they'll see it coming.

TheEarCollector
December 15th, 2004, 12:35 AM
A Clockwork Orange has a sort of second problem... he starts trying to assert his dominance in the gang and ends up trying not to be bad (so his brain won't fry) ;)

I think that is the focus of the story changes, there has to be a break. The death star briefing and Council of Elrond are what keep the two problems in the same story, BARELY.

If you are going for the absurd type of story, just have the villain (sister) explain her diabolical plan James Bond style. If you are going for realistic, go with what Dawnstorm mentioned and just have him noticing all of this, ESPECIALLY when he has to go in there to rescue the girl (who could know more about it since she was there... and therefore be that boost of sudden info that throws him into this).

KatG
December 15th, 2004, 11:55 AM
Oh just write the thing. My goodness, the stuff you guys worry about. What has Star Wars got to do with anything? It's a movie.

There's not going to be any drop in tension -- the tension increases because the problem has become bigger. The transition occurs when the hero finds out that the rebels have a big, nasty weapon. If you want, you can have him talk to his lover, his pal, a local leader or himself about it. Or he can just think deep thoughts. But logically, if he doesn't want the evil rebels to blow everybody up, then he's going to have to do something about it. That's not a transition, it's a plot development.

Now if you want to have a big, old briefing scene, then go ahead and do it. You could have the hero and his lover try to talk to whoever the rebels are trying to take out. But big old briefing scenes can be a little slow on the action, so if that's not the style you've been using so far, you might not want to suddenly ground everything to a halt with a large chat session.

But if it makes you feel better, any way that you can think to present it -- some writer has already done it that way before. So you will not be freaking anyone out, no matter what you do, okay?