Keeping the Middle Moving––Part III

A successful objective met in a scene for the character should still lead to more trouble. Let the character stew about a negative outcome from the last scene. What are the emotions? Click to Tweet #keepmiddlemoving #amwriting

You’ll want to put in beats to pause the action so the character can respond to what’s just happened. Generally, that response is internal, because the outcome was a setback of some sort for the character. Setbacks must be overcome by the character in order to grow.

Once the character has had time to internally, and possibly externally, process what’s happened, then they can decide what to do. What would an external response look like? How about banging his fist against a wall because the girl rejected him? Or she grabs a pillow and cries into it because he wouldn’t ask her out on a date and she feels she practically threw herself at him.

After the raging tide of emotion gets out of the way, the character thinks. What’s the next move? Let’s take the case of the guy who was rejected for a date.

Jarrod slammed his fist against a wall, then looked in the mirror. An unattractive face greeted him. His nose was too large, his eyes beady. He tried to think positive, but he was certainly not terribly handsome. Not even ruggedly good-looking.

The old “tapes” ran through his head.

“You’re just no good. You’ll never amount to anything.” Dad’s voice echoed through his entire being.

“Son, you’ve got to get control of your temper. No girl will ever want to go out with you if you holler at her.” Mom tried to be helpful, but the way she said talked just made him feel worse.

He’d done everything he could to be friendly, but Elaine wouldn’t even give him the time of day. She didn’t know he existed. It took all his courage to call her, and when she turned him down for a date, it was like a knife went through his heart. What could he do?

As he peered at his image, he decided to get a haircut. His long, straggly, mousy brown hair looked ugly even to him. Maybe if he kept clean shaven and got a haircut, Elaine would be more likely to notice him. But if not her, then maybe another nice girl could be interested.

When an action scene is over, the character: 1) deals with the emotions; 2) analyzes the situation, and 3) makes a decision as to what to do next. Click to Tweet #amwriting #keepmiddlemoving


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