The Second Act of Death

Not literally death. This isn’t that kind of blog. I’m actually having a pretty good day. Well, maybe that kind of death, but in the fictional realm.

It’s striking thinking about how often tragedy occurs in the second act of a story, especially thinking about how tragic the second books (or films) of trilogies can be. Perhaps it’s the ultimate time to start slaughtering your characters and revealing the horrors that have been hiding under the surface. By this point in the story, you know the characters pretty well, you’re confident about where their arcs are headed, and, in a way, you know that they can’t succeed in the way that they want to. They have to be fucked over. Sorry, fictional characters. 

Of course, I’m mainly thinking about this because of my own work. It seems whenever I come up with a long-spanning idea for a story the brutalities seem to gather in one specific place (and sometimes the moments leading up to it). The cycle of victory then defeat then victory is tried and true, and though I don’t mean to emulate it, these kind of patterns we copy without thinking.

We’re influenced by the stories around us, we steal them unknowingly, and sometimes the horrible bits as well as the good.

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