- Your hero should be clever and resourceful from beginning to end.
- Your hero must shift being reactive to proactive in the second half of your story.
- Your hero should have a corrected philosophy and a corrected goal by the ¾ point in time to prepare for the climax.
- The hero should nevertheless be the underdog for most of the climax.
- Everything should seem to be hopeless until the latest possible moment.
- It’s inherently unsympathetic for the finale to happen at a time of the hero’s choosing.
Luckily, there’s one simple solution that resolves this paradox and solves all of these problems. Yes, the hero should plan when and where the finale will take place, but then the bad guy (or some other outside event) suddenly moves up the timeline.
As soon as you notice this trick, you’ll suddenly see it everywhere.
- I now realize that this is what was going on in Star Wars: “We’ve stole the plans that will allow us to attack the Death Star (Yay, proactive!), but before we can attack it at any old time (Boring, too powerful), it showed up to attack us! (Scary! Now we have to improvise, and maybe fail! And it explains how they were able to get away before!) (As I pointed out in this post, the whole idea that the Death Star was also attacking them was added in post-production.)
- And for that matter in Empire Strikes Back: I’m finally going to take the initiative to get trained in the Force by Yoda (Yah, proactive!) But I have to cut training short against his wishes because Vader is attacking my friends. (Scary! Now we have to improvise, and maybe fail!)
- Likewise in the original cut, (but not the final cut) of The Terminator. We’re attacking the lab that will make the Terminators (Yay, proactive!), but the Terminator has figured out what we’re doing and he’s lying in wait to attack us (Scary! Now we have to improvise, and maybe fail!) (In the final cut, Cameron decided to chop out the turn to proactivity, and save it for the sequel. In this case, nobody missed it.)