the unexpected

When, oh when are these writing tips going to serve up some cute cat pix?

Today’s the day, gang. Look at that little orange cutie in the drawer. Cute! Cat! Pix!

It’s a nice diversion, right? But also unexpected. At least, I expect you’ll find it so!

Yesterday I wrote about how important it is to keep both hero and reader informed about where the story’s heading. That promised ordeal at the end of the second act is no surprise. It’s the climactic scene we’ve been waiting for all along.

The ordeal is the destination you tapped into your hero's GPS at the end of the first act, or the very beginning of the second. Now, after all the trials and revelations of that long expanse of middle, the moment has come. The promised destination has been reached.  Finally, the story announces, in its perky robot voice, "You’ve arrived.” 

And then, something unexpected happens.

That Wizard of Oz we’ve been working so hard to please? Turns out he’s a fake. Now there’s a new problem to solve. How will Dorothy get home to Kansas?

That dragon Smaug who, against all odds, was finally killed? Turns out his scaly presence was the only thing preventing five different armies from fighting over the treasure. Now there’s a new problem to solve. How will Bilbo stop the war?

The ordeal may have been long-awaited, but it will not go as planned. A whole new set of problems will be unleashed as a result of what your hero does, or fails to do. 

These unexpected consequences are what hurl your story into the third act. This is the ending, and it will require every scrap of hard-earned growth your hero has accumulated so far. 

Is she ready for it? We’ll soon find out! Meanwhile, you’ll have to excuse me. I have a (very cute!) cat to attend to.... 

TIP: When your hero finally arrives at the ordeal, what unexpected consequences will be unleashed? What new set of problems must your hero now solve?

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