Tuesday, June 16, 2009

All is Lost: Another Death Knell

Once we have established what needs to be changed and the protagonist takes action toward that change, the death knells fall silent for a while. Throughout the second quarter of a book, there is almost no chance of death for the protagonist. It is during this time that he is successfully making change toward what he must become. We reach the middle of the book and he has succeeded. Things are going good, but we can’t leave it like this. That would be boring. We’ve got 45,000 more words to write. So, we listen closely and off in the distance we hear them. The death knells have returned.

After crossing the mid-point, the antagonist regroups and begins pulling the protagonist back to what he was before. We’ve already established that what he was before will lead to death, so through out the third quarter of the book the death knells grow louder and louder. The protagonist fights it, but he is losing ground. We reach a point where he looks death in the face. He isn’t dead yet, but we have the sense that it is only a matter of time. All options have been tried and they have all failed. There is nothing left to do. Not only that, he may encounter a half-man who gives him testimony of his own encounter with the antagonist (more on that tomorrow).

This is a good point for someone or something else to die. It isn’t time for the protagonist to die yet. The story must go on for many more pages. The protagonist reaches the point where he realizes that he has lost the battle and not only that, his dog died, or his marigold died or his favorite TV show got kicked off the air. Putting a death here will help confirm that the protagonist is powerless to do more.