E14 – Choice (video, show notes, transcript)
In this episode, Miss Catherine M.H. and V.E. Griffith discuss the second of the Three Cs: Choice.
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V.E. Griffith’s website: https://www.vegriffith.com
Miss Catherine M.H.’s website: https://www.scribes-pen.com
Transcript at: https://revisionwizards.com/?p=2146
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:00
Welcome to the Revision Wizards podcast. I’m Miss Catherine MH. And with me today is my conjuring co host VE Griffith. This is episode 14.
V.E. Griffith 0:11
And today we’re talking about the next big C in the three story method: Choice.
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:17
So what is choice? Well, it’s the thing where you take a quarter flip it to tell you what you’re going to eat and then decide it’s the other meal right now, choice is the movement your character is going to make in the scene.
V.E. Griffith 0:32
There are two basic kinds of choices. There is the best bad choice, which is basically the choice between two terrible things, and they might be equally terrible. But if you choose one way, you get a bad thing. If you choose the other way, you get a bad thing. The classic example that I always use is a little old lady and a kid are going to get hit by a car. You can save one but not the other. Which one do you pick? That’s a choice. The other one is called the irreconcilable good.
Okay, the other one is called the irreconcilable good. It’s a choice between two good outcomes, but you can’t have both. Do you want to take your limited amount of vacation money and spend it on a vacation to Puerto Rico? Or do you want to go to Guam as an example? They’re both good choices, but you can’t have both. So those are the two basic kinds of choices that you run into.
Miss Catherine M.H. 1:46
So how does this play out in the rubric? Well, like some of the others, there are four categories. I’ll give the definition and V.E., who is much better at spotting these than I am will give us examples. So to start us off, I’m gonna give us a conflict. A teenage girl, Jenny is getting ready to go to prom. But she just found out that her girlfriend is cheating on her with her best friend. Both of them will be at Jenny’s house shortly to pick her up for the dance. So first up is underdeveloped. The protagonist does not face a choice. The character is completely passive. Or yeah, passive or reactive, acting without any agency. Go ahead. Conjure us something.
V.E. Griffith 1:54
Okay, a terrible choice for this would be one where she does not make a choice. She just ignores what’s going on and goes to the prom. In that kind of a situation. The character doesn’t make any choice. She simply goes with the flow, things happen to the character, rather than the character making active decisions and making things happen.
Miss Catherine M.H. 3:00
All right, so next up is fair, the choices too easy for the protagonist, the stakes for all the consequences are not equally positive or negative. So Jenny has just found out her girlfriend is cheating on her with her best friend. And both are showing up to pick her up for prom, what are our choices?
V.E. Griffith 3:18
Our choices could be to go ahead and ignore things and go to the prom like in the last example, or to say something but not pursue a real confrontation to resolve the issue. Both of those, that gives the character a choice to make. But the probable consequences are not enough to drive the story forward. And the reader, meh, may or may not care. We want the reader to care. And so we want a better choice.
Miss Catherine M.H. 3:49
Gotcha. All right, so this is getting a little bit better. Now let’s up the game with the next section. Good. The choice posed to the protagonist is difficult. The character struggles to determine the best path forward. Give it to us, what you got.
V.E. Griffith 4:04
Okay, in this situation. Part of what the author is going to put forward for the reader is the character’s internal dialogue as they struggle with the choice. They don’t just pick one, they don’t just flip a coin, they actually see or begin to see the possible outcomes, the possible consequences for their choice. Do we say something or not? But are we going to have a big blow up? Or are we going to just ignore it and pretend? And if we ignore it and pretend, what are the longer term consequences of that going to be? Is it going to ruin friendships? Is it going to cause social problems when other people find out because secrets never stay secrets. On the other hand, It could be even better if you inject more or different or more powerful choices.
Miss Catherine M.H. 5:08
So I guess that brings us up to excellence. So the choice becomes incredibly difficult for the protagonist, the character cannot see a way out of the predicament. And neither can the reader, which should set up for a surprising but inescapable consequence.
V.E. Griffith 5:27
So here, you might have a series of choices. Jenny might decide that she’s going to confront her friends. And then she’s going to have to make a choice based on what their reactions are. And your antagonist here, the two friends also have to make choices, are they going to deny what’s going on? Are they going to cop to it? Are they going to get defensive? Are they going to turn around and leave? Then you go back to your main character for her next choice. If they get defensive? Is she going to double down is, is somebody outside these three people going to hear them? Is mom going to hear them and somehow get involved? Those kinds of choices, with larger consequences make for a better setup.
Miss Catherine M.H. 6:26
Yeah. So as you can see, these are some really good examples of how you can up the game with each choice that you are presented with. So each time try to up it and see, you know, what better stuff you can get out of each section that you’re trying to write.
V.E. Griffith 6:45
And not all choices need to be life and death choices. As you go through your manuscript scene by scene, each or most scenes should have a choice. But the overall choice for the entire manuscript needs to be something that is gut wrenching, and difficult for the character to make. But you don’t all always have to kill somebody. So it’s a balancing act, and it can depend on the genre that you’re in. If you’re in romance, you’re probably not going to be killing somebody. On the other hand, if you’re writing a thriller, the choice may be who lives and who dies. And then the resolution then becomes how does it turn out that the protagonist actually does save everybody.
Miss Catherine M.H. 7:38
My number one tip with choice is that each side has two parts. If Jenny goes to prom, like nothing happened and pretends to be fine, it will go against her moral promise to always stand up for herself. Or if Jenny goes to prom, like nothing happened, and then puts pictures of her cheating girlfriend on the screen to expose her to everyone. Is that really standing up for herself or bullying someone else? With each of these questions, I ask what happens? If she does? And what happens if she doesn’t do them? The juicy or the idea that better for me. That’s how I go ahead and make my choices. What is your number one tip?
V.E. Griffith 8:18
My number one tip is to come up with a bunch of them. Usually, when you’re writing a scene, there’s two or three pretty obvious choices that you can go for. So make it an exercise to write 10. If you write 10, some of them are going to be good, some of them are going to be bad. But you’ve got a better choice with or you got a better chance with more of them. And you’ll find that it’s harder to come up with more choices. And what that means for the reader is it’s harder for them to see a way out.
Miss Catherine M.H. 8:54
Great. So now that you understand what choices Why are you still here, go get to writing and stay magical.
V.E. Griffith 9:04
That’s it for today. Thank you all for joining us. Have a great day.