You might ask why I decided not to continue breaking down the entire story act by act. Or maybe not, but I’ll tell you anyway. Not all stories have exemplary structure. But most of them capture a certain element of structure and do it well enough to spotlight and learn from.
And this week we’re looking at KAT INCORRIGIBLE by Stephanie Burgis.
By the end of Act I, we know everything we need to know. The set up is perfect.
We know her goals. Kat starts in the first line by trying to run away. Basically, she fails in her plan to save her family from financial and social ruin.
But will she try again? That’s the debate.
We know the antagonist. Clearly, if Elissa’s soon-to-be husband is a possible murderer, there will be problems.
We see her flaws in action. She’s stubborn. She refuses to listen, regardless of long lectures. And she misses her mother.
We get a terrific feel for the family dynamics. Kat’s relationship with her sisters and how they are portrayed is extremely realistic – fighting and competitive but loyal and loving. Wonderful characters. I fell in love with Kat and would’ve followed her anywhere.
But if the story had stayed in that place for too long, I might have lost interest. After the set up, the story must move forward!
And that’s what happens. After Kat learns she is part of a secret order of guardians, her family packs their bags and heads off to the Abby for Elissa to meet Sir Neville. And that’s where the rest of the story takes place.
But the Break into Two was so effective. Kat had made the definite decision to help her family even if she’s not sure how to do it. The stakes have become more serious (you’ll have to read it to find out how). And they are off for the main part of the story with a different setting and new characters.
We’re ready for the Fun and Games to start!
How does your set-up and transition into Act II hold up?
Mine rocks . . . I hope. 😀
Love your analysis, Laura. It makes so much sense after reading STC. You could write the companion guide designed for writers. 😀
Um, I think mine holds up okay…*pulls at the collar of her shirt uncomfortably* 🙂
Stina and Katie – Just studying books I love – I enjoy seeing how different authors approach the Break into Two or start of Act II scene. With some books there is barely a difference and with other it’s a definite change. I’ve liked both. It depends on the story.
I struggled with the break into Act II with my current WiP, during the plotting stage. It wasn’t until I drafted that I got a clearer picture of it. But I think it’s going to need some reinforcement on Draft 2.
Ah, fun and games. This is where I am in my current WIP. And it’s killing me not to rush through it. For once I understand the point of that lovely lull in the middle of books.
Susan – yes usually things become much clearer when we start writing or a better plan of action hits us. The plunge into Act II can always be tweaked and rewritten for biggest impact.
Angela – I think the challenge is keeping up the tension during the Fun and Games!
Great post, Laura. In between reading STC and your posts, I’m redoing my outline (it’s amazing that I’m actually trying to keep up with one) for my current WIP.
Laura- Where are you with your ms? Your readers want to know :0)
Ah, you know how much I love your plot posts! 🙂
I always like to think of the Act II transition as the “point of no return” — it’s that turning point where things can never go back to the way it was in Act I.
Karen – I see that point of no return being the Act I climax and yes, a huge part of the transition into Act II.
Jenny – Right now? I’m both rewriting and revising my current YA! And I’m trying to apply everything you read about in my posts. 🙂
Moving forward is sooo important. I have a tendency to move too fast sometimes and need to slow down my pacing in revisions. Maybe it’s the ADD writer in me. IDK. But thank goodness for revisions, right? 😀
I’m knee deep in edits, but today I’m going to make sure this is a clear goal in book two of my series. It’s hard for me to tell if the premiss for this book is strong enough. I thin this will be a good test.
Everything is so clear when I read your posts. I need to have you in my head as I’m editing 🙂
In the beginning, I didn’t understand any of this. It was just intuitive, and a big mess. Now I have a better sense of the parts to my story. I think my current act II is great. Beta readers may say otherwise.
I think my first ms is lacking here…my second ms has a much stronger act II. However, I started both of these projects without knowing much about plotting and went with my gut, as Theresa just said. Knowing more now will help with revisions and plotting my third will be sooooo smooth. *crosses fingers* christy
All I had my first manuscript was tuition after reading so much. But I’ve definitely gotten better in that area!
I think mine holds up okay. (*coughs uncomfortably*).
I guess I’ll find out. It’s rather abrupt.
Wow, good food for thought. I don’t know the answer yet, but am working toward that as we speak. 🙂 Thanks Laura!
I had that very much in mind working on my last MS, and I think it holds. I know the ending really soars into home, so that’s good. I might’ve held the reins too tightly in the set-up, so I want to look at that… As I’m writing now, I’m trying to turn off inner editor, but I’m still thinking about these things.
Great post, Laura! :o) <3
I always enjoy your breakdowns, Laura. Thanks for another goody!