In our post, Getting the Characters Into Action, we started building the world of the characters. We had them at a graduation party, and we discover two things: (1), that Jinx has a thing for Ellie, but it’s a lost cause, because (2) Jinx is leaving when summer’s gone and never coming back. We also learned that Jinx is expected to take over the family business at some point, but this revelation will blow a hole in that plan, as well as create tension within the family.
As we further create the outline, we can’t just have the characters talking, talking, and talking some more. There needs to be some action going on between characters. And when we say “action” we need to make sure you understand that this doesn’t have to be the physically demanding type of action — we’re not making “Mission Impossible: Lake Party” here. Action can take on a lot of forms. It can be the way one character treats another, confrontation over something, or a sequence of events that creates tension.
If you saw “A Quiet Place” this summer, you were on the edge of your seats the most because they weren’t saying anything, and as they made their way from one place to another each step they took could lead to a disaster (I’m not going to spoil it and say why it could lead to a disaster). Needless to say, there was a lot of tension built into those very quiet moments.
So the next thing in our outline we’re going to try to do is build up some additional tension with other students. Once Jinx reveals to Tate that he doesn’t want to take over the family business, they go get drinks and run into Maggie, who is surprised to see Jinx at the party. She says he shouldn’t be there. Before Jinx can ask why, another student, Hunter, gets in Jinx’s face and tells him to leave before he beats the crap out of him. Why? Hunter doesn’t say, because Jinx beats him to the punch. He says he’s leaving – permanently. Hunter tells him that’s a good idea, because he’s ruined enough lives around this town.
There’s a moment when we think Hunter is actually going to take out Jinx, but Hunter is suddenly hit in the face with a poorly thrown football, and Hunter takes off after the hapless student who threw it. Crisis averted, for the moment.
But Ellie overhears the discussion and now she’s in Jinx’s face, wondering what the hell is going on here. Ever since the accident, he hasn’t been himself, and now he’s disappearing forever? Jinx is taken aback – he didn’t think Ellie cared. And now it’s too late to do anything about it.
Now we’ve created tension in two more arenas: that between Hunter and Jinx (physical animosity), and between Jinx and Ellie (a romantic tension). The trick, of course, will be stretching this tension rubber band just enough to not cause it to snap (or pop back and hit us in the eye).
We’ll continue to stretch the rubber band in upcoming posts. Continue to follow along!