By the end of Act One, your characters will likely have stated - either in their heads or actually out loud - that they want nothing to do with the other, nothing to do with a relationship with the other. No way, no how. But the final plot point of this act will not give them that choice. It will make it impossible for them to walk away. Not until. . . So at the end of this piece, your hero and heroine are completely “up a tree” with no way of escape.
In Hero’s Journey language, we’ve established the ordinary world of our hero and heroine. We’ve sent them a call to adventure when they meet each other. They’ve said NO NO NO - the Refusal. And sometimes they’ve met with a mentor or friend that has nudged them into the adventure.
And, at the end of Act One, they’ve begrudgingly Crossed the Threshold.
According to Jami Gold's Beat Sheet - which we’ve been following as a loose outline - in Act Two, “the protagonists react to the new desire, but suffer from one step forward and two steps back.”
As you can see in this beat sheet, Act Two is sandwiched between Pinch Point 1 and Pinch Point 2. Act Two is usually half the book and divided in half itself with an important Midpoint.
Up until that Midpoint, the hero and heroine are confronted by “tests, allies, and enemies.” And up until that Midpoint, the hero and heroine are still trying to live their lives with their old pre-romance ways. They may give lip-service to working together, might even try to work together. But when the rubber meets the road, they’re working alone. In a way, they’re trying to get back to their ordinary world unscathed. Have they got a surprise coming.
An Ordeal at the Midpoint will force them to admit that the road they’re on doesn’t go back to that ordinary world. Something big has changed and they move forward through more challenges, learning to approach life differently: together. Sometimes this moment is capped with The Kiss.
At the end of Act Two comes another turning point. This one will drive a huge obstacle right through their relationship. Often, it leads to a breakup. And then it’s on to the last quarter of the book in Act Three.
Next month, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of getting your couple to that Midpoint.
Your homework: get out those romance movies. See if you can map the story with the information you have right now.
Oh, and BiC-HoK - Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. (And Merry Christmas)