The Manuscript Shredder’s NaNoWriMo Plot Point Calendar is now a Scrivener Template
Tag: NaNoWriMo planning
The Hero’s Problems Deepen
The final battle part 2 is the last step before the climax. Today you will be covering two points: the antagonist pushes back and the hero’s second battle.
The Antagonist’s Final Push
At this moment victory for the hero seems inevitable. Then, the antagonistic forces emerge even stronger.
This is such a common plot point that many clichés have emerged.
the surprise resurrection
Here the villain appears dead, but when the hero creeps up to investigate, the villain suddenly jumps up and is now somehow not only unhurt, but actually stronger than he was before. This might have worked in the 90’s but for the modern audience , this is no longer believable. Everyone knows this is not the moment to get stingy with your bullets. Double tap that guy and get out of there.
Villain/hero can absorb a ridiculous amount of damage
Unless you are Wonderwoman battling Aries, actual people cannot absorb unlimited numbers of bullets/punches/blood loss. Yet, for some reason, writers who were reasonable with the limits of the human body lose touch with reality for the sake of an exciting climax. All this does is make your ending sound ridiculous. If you need more tension, get closer to the hero’s suffering. A bullet anywhere in the torso puts your hero out of the action, period. There are plenty of resources online that will give you the limits of the human body. Don’t ignore these.
In the Lego Batman Movie, Batman fails to stop the Joker and now Gotham is pulling apart.
In Inside Out, Joy has made it back to headquarters but she’s stuck outside the glass.
Both these moments show the antagonistic forces emerging to cause more problems for the hero.
Some rules for good villainy
- New problem must be believable. Villain doesn’t get any surprise powers.
- No deus ex machina (your villain doesn’t get away with it either)
- Your villain is a person too. He must follow the same worldbuilding rules.
- Everything must already exist in your villain’s world. (Lord Business released an army of Micromanagers, something he already had. In Lego Batman, Joker watched a news story that talked about the flimsy plates supporting Gotham.) If you need to go back and foreshadow something, make a note in your story and pick it up in your first round of edits.
The Hero’s Second Attack
The second attack must have something to distinguish it from the first.
Emmet attempts to teach Lord Business that he is the special too
Batman must convince Joker to work with him to put Gotham back together
Rather than being a simple fight between the two, the second half of the battle relates to the theme. This makes it more meaningful to the story.
In Inside Out the second half of the final battle begins after Joy has gotten into headquarters, and now she must convince Sadness to take the control panel so she can stop Riley from running away. Here we see the results of Joy’s character arc: Sadness can help.
Now make it better
It’s easier to make the second half of your fight the same as the first (now with bigger explosions!), but this won’t give the reader what she wants.
Have the hero use what she had learned from the theme to solve her problem.
If you don’t have a theme, have the hero use her brain to solve the problem. This will produce a more satisfying ending than just pounding the “x” button.
This is the last step before the climax. The hero is almost there. Don’t ruin your ending by falling into cliché and lazy solutions. Your hero has already had an epic journey, give her the final battle she deserves.
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At the Second Plot Point the Hero Learns His Lesson
The second plot point is the final piece of information the character needs to complete his arc and finally solve his problem.
- Emmet learns that “special” is a state of mind
- Joy learns that her favorite memory started sad
Characteristics of the Second Plot Point
Must be the final piece of the puzzle, but the character may or may not realize the significance at the time.
When Vitruvious tells Emmet that the only thing something needs to be special is to believe, Emmet is inspired into action. However, at this moment he thinks the new information means that everyone in the room had the power to be “the special.” With this knowledge, he is able to save the others through self-sacrifice, believing that someone else will be able to finally stop Lord Business.
The lie can no longer exist alongside the new information. Before the character could rationalize evidence that was inconsistent with his lie, but after this point, he cannot.
Once Joy sees that Saddness helped Riley process loss and grief and that leads to Riley’s happiest memory, Joy can no longer deny Saddness’s role in Riley’s mental health.
Must propel the character into action.
Both Joy and Emmet were paralyzed during their dark moment (all hope is lost). Once they had the new information, they were inspired into action. Before this moment, Joy believed that to save Riley, she had to save herself. After the new information she realizes that to save Riley, she really needs to save Saddness.
It is the pivot point in the story
The Second Plot Point is the final event in the third section. This is a critical point in the story. Everything has been building steadily to this moment. This marks the end of any set-up. Past this point, you should not introduce any new elements. Everything the hero needs to win must already be in play. No 11th-hour twists.
The second plot point marks the final lesson for your character
The second plot point makes true victory possible. It’s the final piece of the puzzle. This is what your character has been searching for. Now, it’s time for the final battle to begin.
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The second pinch point
The empire strikes back
On day 19 we learn the main character doesn’t have all the answers. At the second pinch point, things get too hard. Here the antagonistic forces overcome our hero. The hero sees his new beliefs didn’t solve his problem and now things are worse than before.
Second Pinch Point
The second pinch point usually comes in three forms: the villain pulls a secret weapon, the thief gets caught, or a complicating factor.
In this scenario, the villain suddenly becomes more powerful in some way. The difficulty with this scenario is that any sudden jump in power must be believable. (Micromanagers in the Lego Movie) Otherwise, it feels like a cheap plot device.
Thief gets caught
This is set-up through a sneaking into the fortress scenario which may or may not include a diversion team. At the second pinch point, the hero’s team will be discovered by the villain. The Lego Movie uses this scenario in addition to the micromanagers to build a stronger pinch point.
Complicating factor is some new piece of information or an event that makes the original plan doomed to failure. The love interest is kidnapped, for example. If possible, make your complicating factor related to the character arc. This will strengthen the connection to your story, rather than feeling like a random obstacle. In Inside Out, Joy realizes that if Sadness gets into the vacuum tube she will turn the core memories sad. She has a chance to get back to headquarters, but she will have to choose between keeping the core memories intact or saving Sadness.
Creating the second pinch point
The second pinch point must:
- Be stronger than the first. The second pinch must be the strongest obstacle the hero has faced. If it’s a minor annoyance, then it will fall flat.
- Make the character feel trapped. In Inside Out, Joy’s choice is more difficult this time because she has seen some indication of Sadness’s value, but her original lie that Sadness can cause harm has been reinforced. On the surface, her decision doesn’t seem difficult, but before this moment, her single-mindedness has never allowed her to have a true dilemma.
The second pinch point should:
Test the character’s new belief or reinforce the character’s lie. In the Batman movie, Batman sees his friends in danger. This reinforces his lie that his choice to be a loner will keep them safe.
Whatever the character chooses in this moment, it should lead him away from progress in the character arc.
The second pinch point is the moment everything breaks.
Whatever you decide to do to ruin your hero’s plan, make sure it affects his character arc as well. Make it the jumping off point for the downward spiral that will lead to the all hope is lost moment. The second pinch is the beginning of the collapse. Make it a powerful one.
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