By Kitty Felde
I’ve always hated Aristotle.
He said there were only two parts to a good drama – the rising action leading to the climax, and the denouement, or the unraveling that follows. It sounds so simple. But my brain doesn’t work that way.
I remember when I first started out as a reporter. It was so hard for me to write with the denouement in the lede. Why the heck would you put your best stuff at the top? I wanted to tell a story the way you tell a story – give your audience a setting, introduce them to the characters, make things worse for them, and worse again, and solve the problem. But news rarely conforms to that clean format.
And I find that when I write plays, those stories rarely conform either.
I wonder if it’s because I don’t like torturing my characters. I like them too much to give them grief, let alone trouble after trouble. I enjoy spending time with them. I don’t want to kill them off.
Which leads me to my Act Two problem.
I’m still stuck in Act Two of my romantic comedy. Perhaps I should look at my favorite films to see how those writers solved this part of the story. You know, the part where both parties admit to themselves that they are in fact attracted to each other. I know logically that there needs to be some sort of complication, an obstacle that gets in their way. Now, make it worse.
I know, I know, Mr. Aristotle. I need some of that rising action leading to a climax. I just wish I knew what it was.
So I appeal to you, my fellow writers. What secrets do you have to share about digging yourself out of Act Two?
I await your wisdom.