Storyboarding. Act 2, Part 2.
For those of you who are following along, I hope this is helpful. This part of the Hero's Journey (see Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey) is shorter than the previous parts of the rising tension, but the curve rises sharply and gets very intense. We are rushing toward the Long Dark Night of the Soul.
Bless our hearts.
Act 2, Part 2.
Recalibrating. At the end of Act 2, Part 1, our characters reached the midpoint. I once heard the midpoint as the place where our heroine gets what she wants and it makes everything worse. So, NOW, she must start over, find a new way of thinking about the world--it may be too hard so she rejects this new faith, this new goal because remember, it's going to get worse.
Escalating Actions/Obsessive Drive. The hero thinks he's found the murderer. The heroine thinks the world is okay again. But he hasn't. And it isn't. They keep going blithely along, though, trying harder to make the old way of thinking work, the old goal to satisfy. This truly sounds like the process of faith, doesn't it? When God shakes your tree, and things get bad, but you convince yourself you can do this on your own, that you don't need some supernatural Sugar Daddy in the sky.
Hard Choices and Crossing the Line. Things keep happening, though. The crimes don't stop, but the suspect is in jail. The heroine works so hard to keep the family farm, but the rain pours. The addict stays away from alcohol but the temptation builds. And then they break.
Loss of Key Allies. The police chief says the suspect has been apprehended, let the case go. The heroine's sister goes back to the city and says the old home place isn't worth the effort. The addict's role model, the one who had beat this thing, falters.
A ticking clock. I'll admit I'm not good at this unless there's a natural deadline such as in the Christmas novella when the two lovebirds have to commit to one another by Christmas to take advantage of the season. Otherwise, I could wax poetic for years. The reader will abandon the story, however. The reader wants a ticking clock. The true villain must be caught before the next victim is the hero's daughter. The loan on the farm will come due and the heroine can either pay it or lose her home. The addict loses her job and hits rock bottom--will she be able to resist the lure of the bottle or the hit?
Reversals and Revelations/Twists. There are clues the reader may or may not catch as she hurries to find the answers. The heroine counts the money and the lack of items in her pantry. The addict calls for help and no one answers.
The Long Dark Night of the Soul. Things get as bad as they can get. The reader lives the terror with the last victim as the detective frantically tries to discover the murderer's identity. The heroine searches the farm for something to sell and the corn disintegrates from water rot in her muddy hands. The addict walks into the liquor store.
To me, one of the most important parts of a story is that we really need to feel that long dark night. If the author isn't crying, the reader isn't crying. If your heart doesn't slam against your rib cage, the reader doesn't shiver with fear. If the author doesn't swallow through a dry throat, the reader won't need to slake that craving. Go there.