Last time we looked at the beginning of the story – the set-up. This next stage is the confrontation. This section, which takes about 45 to 50% percent of a story includes the rising action of the story – the tests by the antagonist’s helpers, the tests by the antagonist and the point of despair for the main characters.
The goal of this section is to bring the protagonists to the point where they could possibly overcome the antagonist in the story. So the characters must learn and grow internally during this section. Let’s look at the individual parts. We’ll keep with the Romeo and Juliet analogy as well.
***please note, I have purposefully split this a little differently then the 3-act ballet, or the 5-act play. It is for illustrative purposes only, not a set in stone division. I leave that level of analysis to people with more expertise than me!***
- Tests by Antagonist’s helpers: The protagonist is engaged in near constant “tests” with the antagonists helpers – learning and developing the skills needed to overcome the antagonist later int he storyline. In Romeo and Juliet, this would relate to the battle between Mercutio and Tybalt.
- Test by the Antagonist: Now the protagonist faces tests started by the antagonist, not the helpers. He, or she, is still learning and growing, a process that will eventually lead to a major internal change within the character. In Romeo and Juliet, when Mercutio is slain by Tybalt, Romeo engages Tybalt in battle and slays him – an act which leads to his banishment. Juliet is also tested in this section, not only regarding her feelings for the man who slayed her kinsman, but also in dealing with confessing her marriage to her parents.
- Despair: This section represents the near victory of the antagonist over the protagonist. It is the point the leads the protagonist to their internal transformation – a transformation necessary if they are to overcome the antagonist. It is very intense and emotional, as the MC is brought to near destruction. It also represents the end of the Confrontation or Development section, and the beginning of the final act. In Romeo and Juliet, It is Julie’s marriage to Paris that sends her into despair, and her solution (faking her death) which sends Romeo to his lowest moment.
This entire section should lead the reader emotionally to the final conflict of the story.
Next time, we will examine the Resolution section of the story.