In a recent plot consultation, the author struggled with something so common I wrote about it in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master and thought I’d share her difficulty here. Her scenes work but where she has them placed in the plot does not work. This happens to all of us which is why a firm understanding of the Energetic Markers and the revision process in testing the markers is so helpful.
For example, her male POV character stands up to his greatest antagonist, which is often the character himself, though in this case, his nemesis is an external force pressing against the character’s forward progress toward becoming a man. During the consultation, the author describes this turning point scene as his crisis.
I’ll give you a brief description of the Crisis or Dark Night Energetic Marker that lands around the three quarter mark in the story as well as a description for the Climax or Triumph Energetic Marker at nearly the end of the story so you can decide where the scene belongs.
At nearly three-quarters of the way through the story, the energy rises to a breaking point. The third Energetic Marker is the crisis, the greatest struggle in the entire story so far.
After surviving this ordeal toward the end of the middle of the story, the protagonist transmutes. But before the protagonist can transform, her old persona must, effectively, die. This is the role of the 3rd Energetic Marker, the Crisis or Dark Night.
Each scene in the middle portion of your story serves to march the protagonist step-by-step to the Crisis. The energy builds until the volcano erupts, or the river overflows.
The protagonist believes she is moving nearer and nearer to her long-term goal and consequent success. When the Crisis hits, she is traumatized. The reader, however, has experienced the steady incline in the story’s energy and feels the inevitability of this shocker from the linkage between each scene and from each thematic detail. (Taken from The Plot Whisperer Workbook)
The 4th Energetic Marker holds the greatest intensity and highest drama in the entire story. It is called the Climax or Triumph.
At the climax of the story, all the forces of the story come together for the final clash in which the protagonist directly confronts her major antagonist(s). Just when it looks as if all is permanently lost for the protagonist, she displays a rediscovered or refined awareness, skill, and/or knowledge. The climax is the crowning moment of the entire story, when the thematic significance of your story becomes clear to the reader.
The action by the protagonist answers the dramatic question posed at the beginning of the story: Will she or won’t she be victorious? At the climax, all major conflicts are resolved. The energy of the entire story crescendos at the climax and immediately is defused. (Taken from The Plot Whisperer Workbook)
Based on those two descriptions, you decide which placement works best — Crisis or Climax (hint: the latter).
When faced with plot confusion:
- Do NOT toss what you’ve written
- Study the Energetic Markers
- Then, rearrange scene placement and see what happens
Take your story though a step-by-step revision process
with the help of the
Revise Your Novel in a Month online program.