Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Storyteller’s Rulebook: We Know They’re Going to Pick the Wrong One First
Do you see the problem? Presented with these two choices, it’s immediately obvious to the reader that the paper they’re seeking will be in whichever one they choose last, and so we just sort of roll our eyes and wait for them to realize that and finally raid the other office. In this case, that was 200 pages of eye-rolling (Most likely, a reader would flip ahead to get to the second office raid).
The hero and the reader should assume that the story will end halfway through, only to be thrown for a loop when they have to keep going and rebuild after the big crash. Obviously, in this novel, they shouldn’t have known about the possibility of a second office until after the first raid failed.
But really, they should have found the paper on the first raid. Raiding two offices for the same piece of paper is too repetitive (even though the offices were in very different places). The midpoint needs to turn the story: They find the paper, find out who the bad guy is, and then launch into a new phase of the story. The big crash means that the hero needs to start over, but not that they need to start the same task over. They’re starting over in the sense that their goal now seems ever further away than it did before, and they need a new plan, but not a new plan to do the same thing.