09 September 2008


At the writers conference this past weekend, I asked an audience of writer which of them knew the Crisis of their story. I had been talking about the three important scenes -- one each in the:
Beginning (1/4) -- End of the Beginning
Middle (1/2) -- Crisis
End (1/4) -- Climax

We had reached the Middle section and after I discussed the parameters of the Crisis, I asked for a show of hands. Barely a smattering. Surprised, I reworded my question. Still just a few.

I asked if they were worried about that. The answer lay in their looks of bewilderment.

I've always been fascinated in the study of energy. I tried to show this pivotal scene energetically. With the help of the Plot Planner template, I showed how a story rises in intensity. The dips only come in moments of introspection and planning by the protagonist (under-the-line scenes). The rest is conflict that rises with obstacles and antagonists and insight into the character's issues (above-the-line scenes), deepening what was introduced in the Beginning.

After having read for this long, the reader/moviegoer demand a release or irritation will set in. The best place for the scene of greatest intensity so far -- the Crisis -- is around the 3/4 mark in the story. What does the protagonist still need to learn? A story is about character transformation. What situation can you put your character in that flows from the story and would provide the greatest impact energetically to both the reader and the protagonist?? For a new self to be created, the old self must be stripped away. What would best provide a mirror for the protagonist to see who they really are?? How they get in their own way?? Sabotage themselves?? Write that scene = the Crisis

The Climax at the End will show the newly created self, the character transformed. The protagonist confronts her greatest foe at the Climax and prevails in a way she never could have at the beginning of the story.

Each ordeal, each obstacle, each antagonist in the Middle provided the protagonist with opportunities to learn about herself. The Crisis in the Middle is the moment she can no longer hide her head in the sand or talk her way out of problems or rationalize her failings or blame others for her inadequacies. The Crisis forces her to wake up, become conscious, begin the process toward wisdom.

Do you know the Crisis of your story???