1. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    Struggling with tying up loose ends in the final act

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BlitzGirl, Nov 2, 2018.

    Disclaimer: I know exactly how my story will end. I even know how at least two important plot lines are going to be resolved. The problem is that I need to get through the final third of the story without rushing anything, while also tying up some loose strands that do need resolution even if they aren't as important. I am aware that this is just my first draft, but I do still want to have some semblance of how Point A leads to Point C and everything in between (so then the typed draft can be improved with more clarity).

    I've brought this up a few times in my story's progress journal, but I know that the journals are more of a place for us to write out our own thoughts and normally aren't used for discussion and help from other users on this site. Here are the plot points that I need to resolve without rushing them, but without dragging the story on longer than it needs to be (that's really the conundrum I am facing) --

    1. The main character needs to realize that she does in fact have deep feelings for a boy, and they need to acknowledge that openly. Luckily, I know what the scene will be that will show that, but I need to get there in a believable fashion. They already have had several meaningful interactions over the many months they have known each other (yeah, sorry, it's story logic. I can't have a years-long romance develop in this piece of fiction due to extenuating circumstances), I just am unsure at what point would be the RIGHT TIME to take their relationship to the next stage. In order for this to happen, the MC needs to be open with the boy about how she did love someone before him, but how that relationship had ended abruptly due to her girlfriend being sent away. She's still trying to deal with that while also struggling with the fact that she likes this boy on his own merits. Complicated young adult stuff, I guess.
    2. The MC will need to go to the royal palace and find out that the queen has been poisoned by one of her attendants, who is actually in league with the bad guys. The poisoning is not something that is killing her, but it has been negatively impacting her health and keeping her out of commission for a long time. Also the reason why the king and queen have not been able to conceive a child, leading to miscarriages. This really is the scene that will push the story into its final act, because the MC will want to report her discovery to the king, but he's not going to take the news well and will flat-out disbelieve her and...yeah, it gets messy after that. But, again, it's a scene that can't happen too soon especially because of the dangerous consequences it unravels. The MC WANTS to go see the queen ASAP, but I guess she will be held back by other things so she doesn't go rushing in so soon...? Story logic, I guess...
    3. The MC is actually in a very important position in her society, a priestess who is able to communicate with their god, the Phoenix. But several priestesses, even high-ranking ones, have not been happy with her, seeing her as not worthy of her title (even though she was born to be in this position, and nothing anyone can say will change what she is). Some have even suggested she'd be better off dead so a new Speaker can be born. Not that they'd act upon that threat...would they? This is a secondary plot thread that really needs some sort of resolution before the story goes into the final act/climax. These naysayers need to somehow be dealt with.
    4. There is unrest in the capital city due to many unsettling things happening, which I don't have the time to explain here (I'm already writing quite a lot in this post as it is). As Speaker, the MC is also expected to be a spiritual beacon for the people of the country, and so she would need to somehow calm the peoples' fears. Of course, the only real way she can resolve this is by tackling the major conspiracy plot point that has been going on, which is related to point #2 above. So I need to have there be at least one scene before the final act where she tries to talk to a crowd, makes a speech. Not sure what it would entail, but that's something that needs to happen at some point. I know it will happen BEFORE point #2, but not sure how soon/late between now and then.
    So, yeah, I got all the major things planned out, as you can see. I'm having no issue with figuring out WHAT will happen, or HOW certain things will happen, but it's mostly a question of WHEN (and some minor points do have the "how" question, but the important stuff is figured out). I am sorry for rambling on so long, but I needed to get this off my chest and hear your opinions.
     
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  2. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    I can't comment on the individual points, because it would require your storyboard. Anyway. Also, disclaimer, I'm not really familiar with the three-act structure.

    The way I'd go about answering these timing questions, I'd think about timing tension. Throughout the story, tension builds up, ideally in each of your plotlines. The tension doesn't always mount, sometimes it retreats until smack, it rochettes up a notch. But when they reach the high point throughout the novel, they should get resolved.

    At certain points, nearer the end (this should happen in your act III), more plotlines (i.e. guy/girl get each other; the MC-king conflict gets resolved,...) hit 'high tension' at the same time. Not necessarily do all of them reach 'high tension' together, I'd even advice against it. Stagger out one or two of the less relevant ones to resolve after the big revelation/resolve.

    I am a visual gal. What I'd do is... Figure out which plotlines are most important/which would be the most important genre-wise to resolve at the climax/where you want to place your emphasis. These plotlines will get resolved at the climax. Look at the others. When do you want them to reach high tension in the overall scheme? Draw a diagram with where you want high tension in act iii in each of your plotlines. Look at coinciding high tension moments for different plotlines. Figure out roughly the word count where you want that to happen. And then happy writing :)

    Just my three cents. And I hope I made sense.
     
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  3. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    I definitely want to stagger the "tension timing" so the reader wouldn't get too overwhelmed all at once. All I know is that the conflict with the king and the fallout from that will be the last thing to happen before the final stretch. It's just everything before that that needs some planning. I think my biggest concern is having too many moments of "rest" between the big scenes that could potentially bore people. But also not rushing everything. It's finding the balance that I'm struggling with.

    Also, I guess it's worth pointing out that I've never finished an original story before, so this is the first time I've ever gotten this far, and I'm both excited and nervous at the same time. I know where everything is leading, but I want it to all pay off and be paced appropriately. Nothing is worse than a rushed conclusion!
     
  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    Remember, you've only roughly a third of the total word count to resolve everything. That's not that many words if you think about it. Think of it in chapters. How many do you still have free? There aren't going to be that many 'rest' moments if you think about how few words you still have to spend.

    When I wrote my first WIP, I made the massive mistake of thinking I had all the time/words in the world at the last stretch. I didn't, and then I had to rush. That made a huge mess. But that was me ;) and you don't have to make the same mistake. So my advice is: draw it out on a big piece of paper and look where you are overall.
     
  5. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    I'm currently not worrying about how many chapters/words I have since I'm not planning on getting published at all. But I can always try to clean things up in later drafts. For now I just need to figure out how to pace the rest of the story, which is what I'm currently struggling with.
     
  6. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    That's not what I meant. I didn't/don't plan on getting published either, and yet a good story, a satisfying read, has a sort of internal rhythm. This rhythm conventionally is set out in acts. So the acts are just a crutch. They are not the endgoal, they are the means to tell you where you should be in your story's rhythm. But for that, maybe others could comment because I really am not familiar with the three-act structure.
     
  7. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    Oh, well, my point still stands that I'm not super concerned about how many pages/words/chapters the final stretch takes up, since I can always clean it up later. But when I said "final act", I wasn't saying my story is organized in a three-part structure. I was referring to how the "final act" is where everything gets resolved and the climax occurs. It was a general term I was using, not taking it literally. :bigoops:
     
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  8. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Does her boyfriend really need to know this information? Girls love to share but does a guy really want to know? Also it depends what you're going to do with it. Use it for conflict than deepen the relationship or just deepen the relationship? And I wouldn't leave it too far towards the end if deepening the relationship puts conflict at higher cost. She's not just in danger of losing a love interest but her beloved.
    Sounds like it's at least past the middle point? Maybe just put up a road block on her getting to the queen too soon or maybe throw in a red herring. She doesn't know it's happening quite so soon and suspects something else is going on?
    You could have them attempt to kill the mc -- that could even slow her down on getting to the queen tieing in both storylines, and thereby they'd be punished. But if you don't want to go that extreme of a route you could have them being punished or relocated or stripped of their abilities or something for bad mouthing the mc.
    As for your last point -- unsure as I don't have all your story details all I can suggest is write it to the best of where your instincts direct you and come the second draft it can be moved. I've been moving scenes in my second draft.
     
  9. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    The primary reason why I'd feel it would be appropriate for the MC to tell the boy about her previous relationship is because she's still been struggling with accepting that it ended and overworrying herself. She lost her previous (and first) love due to being caught and her being sent away (her GF was also a priestess, and it's strictly forbidden for them to fall in love), and she's afraid she'll lose the boy but for different reasons (more afraid he'd get himself hurt or killed if he gets too involved in the investigation she's been undertaking). It's her conscience beating her up.

    And, yeah, my story definitely is in the last third or so of the story, which is why I'm trying to figure out how to bring all of these plot points to a conclusion.

    I guess I am more of venting/getting my struggles written out than anything, since I know that people can only be as helpful as the information allows them to.
     
  10. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    I would advice you to look at the three act structure in a more in-depth way and figure out what the problem is. As you say there is a problem with timing and a little more with hook and holding the readers interest. This was just a basic breakdown of your first act and I struggled to stay interested in it. There could be more conflict and tension and once you add those things it tends to play out.

    Try this article it really helped me out: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/
    hope this helps
     
  11. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Have you tried actually dividing your story into three acts? Grouping the chapters physically into something like Act I, II and III? So you know exactly where the breaks come? And making yourself define exactly what each of your Acts is supposed to accomplish? (Of course you can remove this label when the story is done. However, it helps to keep each portion of the story on track, and helps you see what each portion is doing. I've done this myself, by the way. At first, simply to make the story easier to handle in terms of length. But I also came to see how well it helped me develop subplots and resolve them in due course.)

    I think that physically dividing the story into Acts will give you an easier time to consider your story structure. Each 'Act' will have its own start point and mini-climax, but will also lead smoothly into the next one.

    In terms of the love-interest story, if you could get your main character to sort this with her man before the end of Act II, then they could be working together fully to resolve everything in Act III. You won't still have THAT tension dangling, and it will be very satisfying to the reader to see them acting as a couple for the final third of the book.

    As far as the naysayers goes, I'm with @peachalulu. Your main character's contribution to helping the king and queen will give her a lot of clout. I doubt if anybody would try to harm her, with the royal protection and esteem behind her. And her status will be raised as well. The naysayers would do well to simply curry HER favour, wouldn't they? This could be resolved at the very end of the story, and would bring that subplot to a satisfying close.

    As for the speech thing ... I'm afraid I have no firm ideas about that one. The nature of the society, the kind of audience, the expectations of the audience, her abilities as a speaker, etc ...these all come into play. Not to mention the political timing and the background to the situation will also figure in. Try to think of the consequences of the speech, as they would happen in various time frames. Decide which timeframe suits the consequences best.
     
  12. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    Well, as I said, I"m not literally making my story into a "3-act structure". I just used the term "act" loosely to refer to a thematic period of time (bringing all major plot lines to a close). The bullet points I mentioned in my OP was just describing what needs to be resolved now, and was not a recap of what happened at the beginning of the story. I just want to clarify that! :-D; Everything that's happened so far is tied to the overarching plot.

    I actually originally thought about literally dividing the story into 3 acts when I first started writing it, but then I found that act 1 would only have been the part of the story where the MC is a young girl first coming to grips with being taken away to train as a priestess...and then that part would end as soon as the story jumped to her as a teenager (young adult in this society). And if I did that, then, well, I'd prefer each part to be roughly the same length, and act 1 would not have been very long. I mean, okay, sure, I could always try to make it work in a future draft, but for right now I just need to figure out how to get the end of the story written out so I can say I have at least finished an original, novel-length story for the first time in my life.

    I think my biggest issue with trying to get the romance sub-plot resolved in a "believable way" (as far as a piece of contained fiction goes) is the fact that the MC hasn't spent every waking moment with the boy due to her interactions with him being contained to whenever she had the chance to leave the temple and go down into the city streets. But I've tried to make every interaction somehow meaningful between them, so that, now that they can spend some more time together, everything falls into place. Because the boy is currently claiming sanctuary at the temple and is being tasked to help out with the stables and whatnot with the rest of the temple's male assistants (but can't go INTO the temple due to strict rules, bla bla bla).

    Aaaand...I think I'm just rambling now at this point. It's really hard to explain everything I've done and everything I've had planned without going into some super in-depth recap of the whole story, and since it's still the rough draft, a lot of things aren't as "cleaned up" as I would want them to be. Sorry if I'm not being very helpful with trying to explain things and answering people's comments! :bigoops:
     
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  13. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Don't worry about answering our comments or taking them too seriously. In fact, the story is yours to change or keep as you see fit. We're just throwing ideas your way. You don't need to explain your story to us. Just pick out any comments we give you that you feel might be useful. :)

    If you're having difficulty seeing your way through a problem, perhaps it's a good idea to consider another approach to the problem. If you get stuck trying to fit an event in someplace it doesn't seem to belong, for example, then maybe consider dropping it altogether, changing it so it does belong, or putting it someplace else. If you're wondering when the romantic part of your story should come to a head, maybe do it more quickly than you originally thought you would. Sometimes a major shakeup like that can work wonders. And of course, you won't throw your original away, so if you decide later on to keep it the way you first wrote it, that's fine too. But don't be afraid to test out a really radical change. You might be clinging too hard to what you originally thought the story would be about, when, in fact, it's actually changed a bit.

    If you are thinking of your story in three parts, it might help to actually divide it that way—for writing purposes, not for eventual publication purposes. See if you can put words to what each part actually is supposed to do. Focus on structure, if you can. Don't spend too much time scene-setting and re-enacting things. (Like the growing relationship between these two people.) Make sure each encounter between them ramps the situation up. Each one is maybe more intense than the previous one, and consequently more dangerous? Make sure everything is moving forward.

    Just play around with new ideas for the story. If something seems stuck, try something different. By 'try' I don't necessarily mean write reams you're going to throw away. I mean THINK about the new approach. Just for example (and I'm not asking this question because I want an answer ...just hoping you will ask yourself the question) if you got the two people to confess their feelings for each other in the second 'act,' how would this impact on the rest of the story? Because it would. So follow that train of thought and see where it leads you. Ditto the 'naysayers.' Think of all the things they might do or try to do. And where does each of these things lead? And what or who might oppose the naysayers? What might cause them to fail? Or succeed? Play with ideas like this, and don't be afraid of any ideas you come up with, or automatically reject them. Play around with them and think through to the consequences.

    Sometimes only one breakthrough of this nature can revitalise a story and give it purpose you didn't originally expect ...but it can feel very 'right.' You'll know you've hit that 'right' solution when you do.
     
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