The False New Normal is a break from the antagonist, but not from the lie.
Your character’s lie has survived its first battle, but it took some damage. The next steps in the transformation arc begin with the false new normal.
As a result of the first pinch point, your main character is more pliant. He’s had some abrasion with his lie, and it’s wearing him down. Now he’s willing to make some accommodations to his lie for the sake of comfort.
- In the Lego Batman movie, Batman adopts Robin. This is the first time Batman is shown having any personal relationships.
- In the Hunger Games, Katniss saves Peeta from the river and escapes into the cave.
This state gives the character some respite from the antagonistic forces, but the new life isn’t comfortable. The false new normal is not a long-term solution. Eventually, the antagonistic forces will reemerge. The hero may or may not be aware of the temporary nature of his shelter. The important aspect is that this shelter comes at a price to his lie.
Checklist for the False New Normal
What accommodation is the character making to his lie?
Despite being a loner, Batman allows Robin into his life.
How does he justify that accommodation?
Batman thinks he is using Robin. Calls him expendable.
How does this increase the tension with the lie, i.e. make the lie more difficult to believe?
When Robin performs better than Batman expects, Batman feels fatherly pride.
The false new normal is your character’s attempt to “have his cake and eat it too.” Eventually, the lie will not tolerate this accommodation.
During the false new normal, the character may realize his current situation is in conflict with his lie, but he believes that his accommodations are justifiable. He actions are an attempt to save his lie from the truth hinted at in the first pinch point. What it really does is make those cracks deeper.
The false new normal is a break from the antagonistic forces, but it never lasts.
It is okay to give your characters a break, but make sure that pause actually increases the tension. Don’t let them get too comfortable. The false new normal is only halfway to the destination.