Making a Revelation powerful

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  • Making a Revelation powerful

    Hey guys,

    I'm still on the Rewrite. There's one Revelation/Reveal in my story that still bugs me, because it really falls flat on its face.

    My hero finds out that the bad guys are planning an attack on a specific building in the city. How does he find out? There's a picture of said building and he's looking at it, while he overhears them talking about STRIKING hard in the next room. How could I improve this Revelation?

    It's necessary for the next step: my hero trying to prevent this attack from happening.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Making a Revelation powerful

    Originally posted by Yaso View Post
    Hey guys,

    I'm still on the Rewrite. There's one Revelation/Reveal in my story that still bugs me, because it really falls flat on its face.

    My hero finds out that the bad guys are planning an attack on a specific building in the city. How does he find out? There's a picture of said building and he's looking at it, while he overhears them talking about STRIKING hard in the next room. How could I improve this Revelation?

    It's necessary for the next step: my hero trying to prevent this attack from happening.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    The key to almost any emotional moment is tension and release -- that's where really good scares come from, laughs come from, "crying" moments come from, moments of exhilaration come from.

    You build to them -- and the "building" consists of ratcheting up tension toward the final emotional release.

    So you look at the moment that you describe? Where is the tension. Where is the build-up to the revelation?

    Nowhere.

    He sees a picture. He hears something. This isn't a revelation. It's just exposition. There's no emotional content because you haven't built in any emotional content.

    Is he in danger? Is he actually in the room where the bad guys are planning their nefarious activities, potentially about to be caught?

    And they talk about the location but don't say what it is -- but it's identified on this map -- that's right on the edge of the table -- just within arm's reach.

    If he reaches out and moves it just a little he'd be able to see it --

    -- but that means he has to reach out from his hiding place and then all they'd have to do is turn their heads and they'd see him and he'd be dead.

    And, of course, the larger issue is that the place they're going to destroy would have to have some larger emotional significance to him -- his office is there, his apartment is there. His wife and kids are there --

    -- so that when he endangers himself and manages, at the risk of his life to discover where the target is -- then the revelation isn't just "some building" -- but in fact, it has meaning.

    Meaning to him. It isn't just "a bunch of strangers may die" --- it's that somebody that we've established matters to him (and thus to us) will die if he doesn't act.

    And, of course, as soon as he realizes what the target is -- you cut to those special people at the location in question.

    That's how you make the revelation powerful.

    NMS

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Making a Revelation powerful

      You need to connect the revelation to him either with emotion or stakes, or preferably both. The building that's going to be struck is the building where his wife works, or his daughter's daycare is, or a chemical weapons facility that could wipe out the whole east coast.

      Also SHOW his emotional reaction. A quick line of action text taking it in might be appropriate.

      Also it might be more effective if he stumbles upon the room with the picture and the plans and the people have already left to attack it, thus creating suspense. We know there intent, can he stop them in time?:

      Code:
      Hero BURSTS into the room, gun drawn. 
      
      Empty.
      
      In the center of the room, a table littered with blueprints. 
      Notations of STRIKE POINTS are precisely drawn on it . 
      
      Hero picks up a picture from the floor. Turns it over.
      
      It's his WIFE'S building. Hero's eyes go wide with terror. The
      picture trembles in his hand.
      
                             HERO
               Sandra...
      
      KCHUNK. The sound of a car door closing. Hero runs to the 
      window, looks down to the street.
      
      Two black SUV's speed off.
      
      Hero bolts from the room.
      Just a quick example to clarify what I meant. Also you could have him maybe running down the street trying to call his wife or whover to warn them, but they don't answer. And like NMS mentioned, you could cut to the location to show them busy doing something. they don't see the phone ringing, etc.
      wsaunders
      Regular
      Last edited by wsaunders; 08-19-2015, 10:13 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Making a Revelation powerful

        I agree with nmstevens and wsaunders said.

        On top of that, if you want this to be a powerful revelation, we have to understand why this is a revelation. Did your hero think they were striking another building? Did he think they were planning something smaller, but "oh crap, they're hitting this building!"?

        The first step would be what was said before. Give the revelation some emotional stakes, but beyond that, find out why it's a revelation and not just learning information.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Making a Revelation powerful

          Guys, you are wonderful. I'm so glad that I found this messageboard. Your input helps me a lot. Connecting the reveals to the main character by motivation and stakes makes a lot of sense.

          The building has less of a personal and more of a nation-wide relevance to the main character, since the bad guys are Neonazis planning the biggest terror attack on German soil since 1945.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Making a Revelation powerful

            Originally posted by Yaso View Post
            Guys, you are wonderful. I'm so glad that I found this messageboard. Your input helps me a lot. Connecting the reveals to the main character by motivation and stakes makes a lot of sense.

            The building has less of a personal and more of a nation-wide relevance to the main character, since the bad guys are Neonazis planning the biggest terror attack on German soil since 1945.
            You are going to find, in terms of emotional stakes, that "saving the world" doesn't mean much to an audience unless it is anchored in some way to someone personal.

            Think about Casablanca -- the whole thing tips on the issue of whether the hero is going to go off with the woman he loves -- or fight the Nazis. That becomes his key dramatic choice and ultimately he chooses not to be with the woman he loves because he realizes that fighting the Nazis (that is, his responsibility to humanity) is more important.

            What invests stories with dramatic interest is giving your protagonist hard choices, not just difficult physical problems.

            That's because you're the one who's creating the mountains and you're one providing him with the tools that he needs to climb the mountains -- and since the audience on some level knows this, they sort of know that however difficult the mountain is going to get, if climbing the mountain is all there is, that somehow or other you, the storyteller, are going to provide him with the necessary "physical" means to climb the mountain.

            The challenge always comes down to the dramatic means -- that is, making the climbing of the mountain (whatever that may be) not simply an external task, but an internal one -- one that requires him to make difficult choices.

            You, the storyteller, can always give him the necessary "mountain-climbing" equipment -- but when you put him in a situation where he has to choose between saving the woman he loves and saving a building full of people -- then he's simply got to choose.

            There's no "mountain-climbing equipment" available unless you cheat -- unless you give him some trick that lets him save both so that he gets to check "none of the above" on the test.

            But think about even a popular movie like Star Trek - Wrath of Khan.

            The whole thing is about Kirk never having had to face real loss. He's arrogant, he ignores regulations, and he always tricks his way out of things. And then he has to face real loss when Spock dies. (And yes, I know Spock comes back in the next movie, but that movie sucked).

            All of us have real people in our lives, face real loss, deal with real moral problems -- but very few of us actually have to do things like fight army of Neo-Nazis or defuse atom bombs with little read-outs on the side ticking down to when they're going to go off making it easier for the atom-bomb defuser to know how much time he's got left.

            So if you want all of that fancy-dancy comet-hitting-the-earth stuff to be at relate-able you have to connect it to things that audience understand -- family, relationships, love, loss, faith, patriotism, responsibility -- the things that people actually deal with and relate to and really care about.

            NMS

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            • #7
              Re: Making a Revelation powerful

              Going off what NMS just said about saving the world not mattering that much.

              It makes me think of Ant Man, the most recent example I can think of.


              You have this plot where an advanced technology is going to fall into the hands of evil people who could use it to terrorize the world. Yet that gets resolved at the end of the second act. The real final battle is for the life of the hero's daughter back at her house. Because personal stakes will always engage the audience more than global.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Making a Revelation powerful

                It might help if you put your protagonist in the middle of his revelation, expressing in some way his emotion, and working backward from that. Let him say or do what comes to him without your interference (I mean disengage conscious control) and from that you can build a base from where it all comes from.

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                • #9
                  Re: Making a Revelation powerful

                  I don't have any help to add, just wanted to say thank you for the question, for the responses, this really helped me with a character problem.

                  This place is awesome
                  Looking for some light, and making things beautiful along the way.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Making a Revelation powerful

                    Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
                    You are going to find, in terms of emotional stakes, that "saving the world" doesn't mean much to an audience unless it is anchored in some way to someone personal.
                    NMS
                    I just had this conversation with my daughter, last week.

                    She said she was writing a story and I asked her what it was about. She told me it was a fantasy story about the Whatnots* at war against Whoevers*. When I asked her the same question again, she caught on pretty quickly (she's smart) and told me it was about a girl and her family, who..., etc.

                    Watch a WWII movie sometime. It's always about a person, or a group of people. If it's actually about WWII -- that's called a documentary.

                    (* not actual names)
                    "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Making a Revelation powerful

                      Originally posted by StoryWriter View Post
                      I just had this conversation with my daughter, last week.

                      She said she was writing a story and I asked her what it was about. She told me it was a fantasy story about the Whatnots* at war against Whoevers*.

                      (* not actual names)
                      Ah that's a shame Sounds very Dr. Seussish

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Making a Revelation powerful

                        Originally posted by wsaunders View Post
                        The building that's going to be struck is the building where his wife works
                        Haha. First thing that came to mind for me too.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Making a Revelation powerful

                          Originally posted by Yaso View Post
                          Hey guys,

                          I'm still on the Rewrite. There's one Revelation/Reveal in my story that still bugs me, because it really falls flat on its face.

                          My hero finds out that the bad guys are planning an attack on a specific building in the city. How does he find out? There's a picture of said building and he's looking at it, while he overhears them talking about STRIKING hard in the next room. How could I improve this Revelation?

                          It's necessary for the next step: my hero trying to prevent this attack from happening.

                          Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

                          I didn't read the previous answers, But when I read revelation and the kind of plot you're working one the first thing I thought was die hard 3.
                          there's more than one actually
                          check that out it might help

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Making a Revelation powerful

                            Originally posted by Yaso View Post
                            Guys, you are wonderful. I'm so glad that I found this messageboard. Your input helps me a lot. Connecting the reveals to the main character by motivation and stakes makes a lot of sense.

                            The building has less of a personal and more of a nation-wide relevance to the main character, since the bad guys are Neonazis planning the biggest terror attack on German soil since 1945.
                            This was covered in another thread and cited this TED video, which is what many here are suggesting, Save the World or Kiss the Girl:
                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=752INSLlyf0

                            Comment

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