08 June 2010

Energetic Markers in Universal Story

In preparing for my first ever Writers Plot Retreat in the redwoods on Thursday through Sunday (don't expect another post for a few days), I marvel again at how consistent the Energetic Markers arrive in the Universal Story for romance novels, to screenplays, to mysteries, young adult, memoirs, middle grade and yes, even picture books.

For instance: The Cay by Theodore Taylor.

Like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee where the plotline dealing with Boo breaks off after the End of the Beginning and does not come back until the End, The Cay has an almost independent plotline running through the Middle (1/2) with the Beginning (1/4) linked back to the End (/14).

The End of the Beginning of The Cay is when Phillip is blind. The antagonists in the Middle are Phillip's prejudice of Timothy, blindness, a deserted island, fear, feeling sorry for himself, the weather and Malaria. Phillip's allies in the Middle are Timothy and Stew Cat.

In the Middle of The Cay, Phillip must maneuver, with the help of Timothy through a survival course, the Unusual World of living on an island blind.

The Crisis of the subplot on the island occurs about Halfway through the entire story. Phillip climbs a palm tree blind, makes it about 10 feet and then freezes. Comes back down and he feels Timothy's disappointment. This scene serves two plotlines:  
1) His personal Crisis point in the subplot 
2) The Halfway point in the overall story for a reason to recommit to the adventure, in this case, survival

The Climax of the subplot on the island comes when Phillip attempts the climb again, makes it all the way up, picks two coconuts, comes down and asks Timothy, "Are you still black?" showing Phillip has both overcome is fear and his prejudice.

The Crisis for the dramatic action plot of the overall story comes at exactly the 3/4 mark when a hurricane hits the island.

The Climax comes when Phillip himself is able to signal the plane.

In Resolution, he is rescued.

Anyway, my point is that the End of the Beginning, the Halfway marker, the Crisis(es) and Climax(es) all hit exactly where they "should".

And, that's only two of so many examples.

I keep throwing the concepts out there because they're helpful and valid. Something worth learning for your own stories.