After the inciting incident(s), you’ll want to keep the action high and the stakes higher.
Welcome to Lesson #2 of Part #2! Forgive me if I’m a bit out of it today, but I just had four wisdom teeth removed and I’m a bit loopy/in pain. So enjoy the ride.
We will study Rising Action in this lesson, which is the second part of a book plot. Seems all the two’s are lining up, eh?
In this study, we’ll see what causes Rising Action (sets it off), what importance it has in the story, how to make it more captivating for your reader, and much more! (I think I say that everytime. And get used to lots of parentheses in this lesson. Blame the medicine.)
What is Rising Action?
In our plot, Rising Action is the area between the Beginning and the Climax. It takes what we showed the readers (characters, settings) and gets them into a real story. If you’re using the triangle-looking plot structure, then it’s the left side that points up.
The purpose of Rising Action is to transport our readers to the Climax. That’s the main goal, anyways. In this are a couple hidden agendas for us, the author.
Agenda #1- Character Building
First of all, you want to expand on your characters. This is the time when they become life-like and you keep trying to make the reader like them. Make the reader enjoy them, and the reader will be very emotional when you kill them… I mean, when they get into fights and stuff.
One point to remember is the title itself: Rising Action. So stuff has to actually happen. They can’t just be sitting around and then boom! a big event happens. That might be how it works in real life, but it’s not the same in fiction. And people don’t read fiction to relive their life.
When all this stuff happens, your characters will react, and their reactions show their personality. If somebody cusses them out, how they respond will show something.
Do they punch them? Then that gives us the idea they’re hot-tempered.
Do they step forward and try to evangelize the person? Then that gives us the idea they’re religious in some form or another.
Do they run away? Shy or afraid or don’t like confrontation.
Agenda #2- Action/Reaction
I think it’s one of Newton’s Laws that says For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Let’s ignore a couple words and make it this. For every action, there is a reaction.
Every time something happens, something else will happen in response. That response, that consequence, that effect is what keeps the story moving forward.
This is one area where plot twists can get thrown in. If you do that, it causes a major reaction because it’s a major or at least unexpected change. That’s a good thing. Keep the readers on their tippy toes.
I’ve read in some places that every event, action, or dialogue should have the sole purpose to move the story forwards. I disagree. There are other things you can do that don’t necessarily get you closer to the outcome.
Let’s take dialogue for example. It can be used to:
1- Move the story forward.
Dialogue is a great way to push events closer to the Climax and eventually the ending. It keeps the reader zooming through your words and devouring them.
2- Develop a character.
One of the best uses for dialogue is to show more about a character. There’s the action/reaction thing we mentioned earlier, but that’s not at all. How a character talks shows how they view the world, and how they view the world shows what type of person they are. A great way to do this is conversation -it shows traits about all characters talking.
3- Describe something
One of the best ways to describe a setting is to have the character talk. They will have some type of response to whatever they’re viewing, and this shows both what they are like and where they are. It’s great!
This was just one example, using dialogue. In reality, there are a plethora of ways to use dialogue, actions, and all parts of a story. They can make the story deeper without pushing it farther.
Agenda #3- Intensify
As you go through writing your Rising Action, the story should gradually get more intense. At the beginning, it’s just one event, something unusual. This is called the Inciting Incident (by my teacher anyways). It’s really just the start of the story.
This incident can be anything. In an alien invasion novel, it’d be when the aliens come. Or maybe when the alien spaceship is sighted.
The beginning of a book is a complicated thing. Sometimes, the Rising Action is just a series of events that leads to the Climax, and these events start very close to the beginning of your book. The Beginning section can be made of a few sentences, even. Or it could even be an exciting event itself!
There are plenty of ways to make this happen. As your story gets more intense, the reader will become captivated. They’ll be staying up ‘till midnight reading, and grabbing your book first thing in the morning. This section, the Rising Action, is when readers are least likely to put down your book, but also most likely. If it doesn’t keep them guessing and interesting, they’ll give up. They’ll leave.
While the Beginning is what gets them reading, this section keeps them reading. Because if they enjoy the Rising Action, they’ll get to the Climax, and then of course they’ll want to know how it ends!
At the end of the day, the Rising Action should keep the readers interested. After the inciting incident(s), you’ll want to keep the action high and the stakes higher.
Plot twists are a great way to throw a surprise in there. If the reader can guess what’s going to happen next, the story then becomes bland. Even if they know the good guys will win, it should seem impossible. If they are thinking, “I know the good guys are gonna beat the bad guys, but I have no idea how they can do it,” then you’ve done your job.
In the next lesson, we’ll talk about the most emotional, most powerful, most difficult part of the book: The Climax.
See you there, and hopefully I’ll be able to feel my face by then!