Revelations and Decisions: Changed Desire and Motive, John Truby, The Anatomy of Story, p. 286–288
At this point in the story, the hero gets a revelation — or reveal — which is a surprising piece of new information. This information forces him to make a decision and move in a new direction. It also causes hum to adjust his desire and his motive. Motive is why the hero wants the goal. All four of these events — revelation, decision, changed desire, and changed motive — should occur at the sime time.
The reveals are the keys to the plot, and they are usually missing in average stories. In many ways, the quality of your plot comes down to the quality of your revelations. Keep these techniques in mind:
The best reveals are those where the hero gets information about an opponent. This kind of information intensifies the conflict and has the most effect on the outcome of the plot.
The changed desire must be a bend of the original desire, not a break in it. Think of the changed desire as a river that changes course. You don’t want to give your hero an entirely new desire at this point, or you have started a new story. You want to adjust, intensify, and build the original desire line.
Each revelation must be explosive and progressively stronger than the one that preceded it. The information should be important, or it won’t pop the story. And each reveal should build on the one before it. When we talk about the plot “thickening”, this is what is actually happening. Think of the revelations as the gears in a car. With each reveal the car (story) picks up speed until at the final one the vehicle is zooming. The audience has no idea how they ended up moving so fast, but they sure are having a good time.
If your revelations don’t build in intensity, the plot will stall or even decline. This is deadly. Avoid it at all costs.
Note that Hollywood has become more plot-conscious in recent years, and that makes many screenwriter’s reliance on three-act structure even more dangerous. Three-act structure, you will recall, requires that your story have two or three plot points (reveals). Aside from the fact that this advice is just plain wrong, it will give you a lousy plot with no change of competing in the real world of professional screenwriting. The average hit film in Hollywood today has seven to ten major reveals. Some kinds of stories, including detective stories and thrillers, have even more. The sooner you abandon three-act structure and learn the techniques of advanced plotting, the better off you will be.
a) Revelation: Ilsa shows up at Rick’s bar later that night.
b) Decision: Rick decides to hurt her as deeply as he can.
c) Changed Desire: Until Ilsa arrived, Rick simply wanted to run his bar, make money, and be left alone. Now he wants her to feel as much pain as he feels.
d) Changed Motive: She deserves it for breaking his heart in Paris.
a) Revelation: Michael realizes he has real power when “Dorothy” acts like a bitch at the soap opera audition and gives Ron, the director, a piece of her mind.
b) Decision: Michael, as Dorothy, decides to behave like a no-nonsense, powerful woman.
c) Changed Desire: No change, Michael still wants the job.
d) Changed Motive: Now he sees how to have the job on his terms.
TWENTY-TWO STEPS TECHNIQUE: ADDED REVELATIONS
The more revelations you have, the richer and more complex the plot. Every time your hero or audience gains new information, that’s a revelation.
KEY POINT: The revelation should be important enough to cause your hero to make a decision and change his course of action.
a) Revelation: Michael realizes he is attracted to Julie, one of the actresses on the show.
b) Decision: Michael decides to become friends with Julie.
c) Changed Desire: Michael wants Julie.
d) Changed Motive: He is falling in love with her.