This is the point where most stories fail, and the reason is simple: the third quartile is the beginning of the fight back, it is the point where the obstructions are too much, especially the character’s own inner demons.
The third quartile of the story is from the mid-point to the 2nd plot point (PP2). In that journey, the reader meets (right in the middle of Q3) the 2nd Pinch point (2pp). Remember what a pinch point is? It’s the place where the ‘enemy’ of the MC (main character) gets ahead, takes back power, wins (or appears to win), etc. It’s the vision (for the reader) of the antagonist. And it’s strong, powerful, seemingly invincible (including the fight against the inner demons). The bad guys are doing better than the good guys, and someone is going to be licking his wounds and questioning his right to be in the world, especially this world.
And the darkest part of the journey is just before he hits the PP2. Why?
Because 25% of the story (the setup) worked towards the power of the PP1. And then 25% of the story worked towards the MidPoint. And now (you guessed it!) 25% of the story works towards the PP2. These three power points are what matters. Hit them hard, make the reader feel them in the bones.
Well, maybe not Hard hard, but know that this is the point where they belong, and what they do, and why you have to hit them at all.
The Q1 is the setup (all of Q1) that leads to the PP1. The Q2 is the response to the PP1, so if PP1 isn’t powerful enough to send the MC on the journey of a lifetime – through hell and high water to Do Something – then it needs to be re-thunked. So it becomes a thunk – a moment that sends the MC on the story journey.
The Q3 is the beginning (note that word) of the ability, the things learned and put into action, to begin the fight back. It’s not the point where the MC can win, but he can begin to work on the problems, overcome one at a time (look carefully at the inner demons, and how long it takes to work on something as simple as being able to say ‘hello’ to a neighbour if you’re agoraphobic), and move forwards and then severely backwards.
The last few major points in the Q3 is the (quoting from ‘Save the Cat – Snyder’ here): Bad guys close in; All is Lost; and Dark Night of the Soul. (If you haven’t seen these before, I highly recommend reading his book and enlightening your author-over-mind.)
Next time (don’t know when, ‘cos it’s holiday season, and I’m off to do the things we all know we shouldn’t do) is Q4 – the finale, the resolution, the end.
See you then. Oh, and keep reading.
The Third Moment will be hitting the e-shelves in Jan due to the shut-down of stuff over the holiday period.