This week, I'm going to finish the story! Just kidding, I have 50 pages (at least) left on my latest WIP (that's work-in-progress for you non-writing peeps), Hope of Hatteras. Hope is Megan, Trey's little sister's story. And this is just the first draft.
However, this IS perfect timing. I'm about to the dark moment, which is where left off in my explanation of the traditional story arc. The dark moment is the end of Act II. Scroll down to previous blog posts if you're interested and don't know what I'm talking about.
Thematic Location. The beginning of Act III is right after the Long Dark Night of the Soul. The hero or heroine (or both) have just experienced one of the worst events (whether an actual event or mental anguish) in his or her life. They can literally be in a dark place--in Christmas on Ocracoke, the heroine is on the floor in her basement bedroom with literally no lights on because she didn't have the energy to switch on a lamp. The hero comes in and finds her, and turns on a solitary light. I don't know if I meant to have such potentially deep symbolism, but it doesn't hurt. This shouldn't be artificial, I mean don't have the heroine drive to her parents' graves when the drive would require her to be hours away, but again, something similar wouldn't hurt.
The protagonist's character change. Part of the point of a novel, especially a Christian novel, is that the hero or heroine grows. She may grow in her faith or develop one where none existed. She may learn to trust or turn to God or any of the many things we flawed human beings require addressing. She may grow in confidence, and so on. Show this change.
The other protagonist's character change. No character should just be along for the ride. We all should be growing. Also, in Christmas on Ocracoke, one of the hero's flaws is butting in where he doesn't belong. He drives away at this point in the book and leaves the heroine to face her ex-husband alone (after making sure she's okay and up off the floor). I didn't even know I did this until right now. Hmm. God works in mysterious ways.
The antagonist's character change. Not every book has every thing, but the most interesting villain also changes and grows. I'm not going to give away all the secrets from Ocracoke--you'll have to read the book for this one. At the same time, I might point to Christmas Confusion--Emma played the villain in that one and, by the end of the book, she'd addressed some of her issues and actually gave big sister Tiffany advice.
Gaining of desire. Earlier in the book, getting what the character thinks she wants leads to disaster. Now, gaining what she really needs leads to happiness. Maybe not happiness ever after, but happiness in the book, as much as we can in this broken life.
Payoff. Everyone gets a car! No, not really, but the other protagonist also gets a reward, his happiness.
Resolution. The conflict is solved. The end, except maybe for a lovely epilogue.
Final Image. One important thing I've gathered over my years of studying writing is that the writer should work just as hard on the ending as on the beginning. This is where you sell your reader on your next book. One amazing thing is if the end can mirror the beginning in some way--leave your reader with a visual that is satisfying, all ends tied, and beautiful.
One can only hope.
By the way, this is the end of the storyboarding series. Please comment if there's another writing topic you'd like me to pursue...I'd love some feedback. Thanks!