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Writing Lectures/Objectives Twenty-One and Twenty-Two
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External and Intermediate Crisis

Definition of External - 1) relating to or connected with the outside, 2) an outer part

Definition of Crisis - 1) a turning point for better or worse, 2) a decisive moment, 3) an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs.

This week you're going to be writing about an external crisis, an outside influence, something from someone or something else besides your central character's own actions that causes a turning point–a crucial time in your CC's life.  It needs to be an intermediate, middle sized crisis.

It's time to move onto a larger crisis. Not the biggie, but one that is intermediate in scope. If the first one was analogous to a field goal, this one is a touchdown. The game isn't exactly on the line yet, but this is a big hurdle for the central character to deal with. For this one, you need to present an external crisis. Here somebody else, or even God, is responsible for the difficulty. It can be an act of nature, or it can be where that evil antagonist takes a halfhearted swing. I say halfhearted because the final knockout punch is intended for the climax. That will be the old round house left hook.

Say the CC gets word that his nemesis is back in town and is determined to bring the CC low. It is like the corrupt sheriff without the posse. In the finale, the posse will arrive on the scene. But for now, the sheriff feels that bringing the CC low is well within his means.

These crises are not exactly sequential. They are more like a metamorphosis. In the last one, the CC did something stupid making it possible for the second one to develop. Maybe he ran off at the mouth one night at the bar and told everybody about the gold strike he had happened onto. So what happens next? Well a host of disreputable characters want to steal it, and the worst of the lot is Sheriff Scumbag. All the others are not a pimple on Scumbag's petootie.  Only by the narrowest of margins, does our hero survive the second encounter. Get the idea?

Again put on your Operational hat.  Number and name chapters 11-20.  The vignette you write will be Chapter 17.  Again keep in mind what comes before and what will follow.  The whole crisis won't get developed here, but an important part.  Again the reader needs to see what the CC faces, a plan for dealing with it and a resolve to meet it head on.  In this vignette the CC and her opposition take their gloves off.  It is shaping up to be a winner take all event.  The margins will be slim.  The CC is no longer "Susie Milk-toast... "  She has some experience under her belt and the reader sees her lip curl and from the Sub-Text, hears the unwritten words ..."Bring it On."

Nothing is happening in a vacuum.  What you write builds on earlier chapters and sets up those that will follow.i They build on one another and one springs from the next. Interwoven is the Central Character (CC) and her want, need, and/or desire. Behind is the Life Changing Event and a reborn CC determined to act aggressively and make things happen..

In a story, as in life, there are bill payers to everything, and our CC doesn't want to become another sad statistic. Good must triumph over evil, and righteousness must snatch the prize from the jaws of defeat. It's fun to kick back and think about all the components of your story. Ponder them in the abstract and decide where they will get poked into the manuscript.

Today I was writing a short story and I remembered getting hammered by one of my instructors about the use of the senses. Hmm, I asked myself. Did my story include all five, maybe six (Da da da da)? I had plenty of visual effects, lots of sound and feeling, but you know what, there was no smell and no taste.  Imagine that!  A story with two of the five senses missing. How did that ever slip through the cracks? So, I went back, and there was room enough in the word count to add them in. Guess what?  They enhanced the story.  As you go along in this workshop, think about all of the things we've discussed and make sure they are each being given their due in your writing.

Percy Goodfellow - Workshop Instructor
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