That’s right. Let’s dive into Act II of THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. And learn to stay afloat in Act II!
Break into two: (protagonist must make a proactive decision)
Again. This was easy for me to find. Remember the debate? It’s answered. Lennie strides into Act I by saying yes. She finally is willing to play her clarinet with Joe and all her grief comes pouring out. Joe is stunned. But it wasn’t just a random decision. In order to avoid Toby and grief, she decides to play.
B story: (the love story – not always romantic)
In Act I, Joe pursued and Lennie pushed him away. But now the world is upside down and they set off on the rocky road of love. They play together. They have fun together. And surprise, surprise because at times, Lennie feels joy.
Fun and Games: (the heart of the book – why we read it)
Why did I pick this book up? What were my expectations? I wanted to read about a girl dealing with her grief and moving on and figuring out how to do that. So, with her newfound decision of playing the clarinet comes other brave decisions. It’s really hard to call this section Fun and Games, but don’t take it too literally. It’s a breather before the tension spikes.
You’ll have to read the book to find out what those brave decisions are. #sorry
Midpoint: (stakes are raised significantly; another big game changer)
Again, in a plot-driven novel, the midpoint should be obvious. In a literary, character-driven novel what turns out to be a game changer is just on a smaller scale but still huge in Lennie’s world.
In Chapter 20, exactly half way, Lennie finally talks to her best friend, who she’s been ignoring. She tells her everything. This is huge! Lennie is letting someone into her life in a healthy situation.
Bad guys close in: (Things get even worse.)
In a character-driven novel there is no regrouping of the antagonist and his minions. It just isn’t like that. But, stakes are raised. Definitely.
I’ll just say that Lennie learns that Bailey, her sister, had secrets. Big secrets! And in her grief, she makes mistakes that affect her budding relationship with Joe.
All is Lost: (no hope left)
In chapter 30, Lennie is in her room. So many things come to a head. She realizes how Bailey’s secrets affect her too, and Joe is not coming back. And even worse, as the days pass, she no longer hears Bailey’s heels clicking in the hall. She’s getting used to her sister’s absence. Her sister’s clothes now smell like her, since she’s worn them so much. In all areas, Lennie has no hope left.
Dark Night of the Soul: (How does the protagonist feel about everything?)
Through out Chapter 30 we know exactly how Lennie feels. Miserable. Then her friend, Sarah, forces her to go to the movies. They see Joe and Rachel together. Rachel plays first chair clarinet, and Lennie plays second. But we all know that Lennie is better. At the end of this chapter, Lennie decides to challenge Rachel for first chair. (Who is this girl, who at the beginning wouldn’t even play her clarinet?)
And that ends a wonderfully structured Act II. Onward!
Can you find some of these elements in the middle of your current wip? Do you agree or disagree with me?