Act II begins after the inciting incident, and about the time that they approach the crossing of the threshold, that is, crossing into their new world. The new world doesn’t literally have to be a new magical world, but that which takes them out of their daily usuals. It could be being asked to go on a road trip, being kidnapped, falling down the rabbit hole, finding that there is no food in the house and all the shops are empty.
Once the threshold is crossed, your MC is going to be reacting to the new reality for a time, and then reach a point when they have to be proactive, which is called the Turn.
After the Turn is reached, it’s the climb toward the Climax of the story. This is where the MC confronts the problem of the story head on, and during this confrontation, the conclusion of the story is drawn, essentially, and we are drawn into Act III. Act III can include a final, weaker challenge of the story against the antagonist, but overall, your climax is going to be at the end of the second Act.
However, there are a few essentials in Act II that must be accounted for, and this spread is to give you a general idea of how these aspects come to fruition.
The first card deals with reflection on the Threshold. If you haven’t gotten this far, then for you it can represent the threshold event itself, or the new world in which your MC is coming into. If you have developed this, then it can be your MC’s reaction to it, whether they’re excited, annoyed, scared, whatever. This card will give you further detail into this scene.
In Grey’s Anatomy, the show opens with Meredith narrating saying that she is totally screwed right before cutting to her first day as a surgical intern. This is crossing the threshold, and while she’s excited and has prepared for years about it, she’s terrified.
Card 2 is going to represent the guide in the new world. This person or being doesn’t have to be a big character, however they are the ones who lay out the rules of this new situation. It could be a sign, it could be an animal that accompanies them, or it can be a major character who develops into a sidekick. However, this person understands the situation at hand, and has already figured out how to navigate it. Consider in Walking Dead, Rick meeting up with the man and his son in the first episode, who teach him the basics of the zombies. He then meets up with Glen, who teaches him more.
In Grey’s Anatomy, the guide is Maranda Baily, the resident that they work on. While tough and strict, she teaches them the entire way and lays down the rules right away for the interns to follow.
Even if your characters know how to navigate in this new world, your reader doesn’t, and thus these rules need to be expressed in some way. This is why it is important to include a guide once they enter into a different reality from the MC’s normal living.
Card 3 can act as an introduction to your Antagonist if you haven’t already done so, however, this card is more about displaying why they are a problem. There will be another spread on this tomorrow, but for the meantime, this is a one-card summary of their first showing of their strength, and what your MC is up against.
If you look at the spread, you’ll see there is a second display of power. This first display is meant to deter the MC, make them nervous about what they have to deal with, if they have to deal with. They might even go so far as to say that they’re having nothing to do with that.
We talked about the Turn on Day 12, and this card is just a reminder of that turn, or possibly, is further detail for the Turn from that spread. A recap, this is when the MC goes from reacting to being in this new world, reacting to the situation their in, and taking charge. This is the event or deciding factor which makes them say ‘No, I’m not running, I’m dealing with this.’
As I mentioned before, there is a first display of power, which is meant to make your MC dubious of the antagonist, to say the very least. The second display of power is when your MC decides that there is something that has to be done about them. It is the point past the turn, in which the MC sees how much of a problem that the Antagonist is, and that they must be stopped. Card 5 is a motivator toward their thwarting of the antagonist.
Card 6 is the Climax. This is where everything comes to a head. This is the moment that the entire story has been building to. No, it might not fulfill the goal at the start of the book for the MC, but it is the solving of the problem that the Antagonist represents. Tensions get high here, and your reader should be deeply invested and at the edge of their seat with this moment.
There will be a spread later al about the Climax and developing it, but for the moment, Card 6 is a one-card summary of this climactic event.
For a signifier, I actually pulled out one for my MC and for my antagonist (the 8 of Pentacles and the 9 of Pentacles).
For this card I got the 3 of Swords. I’m actually looking at this card in terms of seeing no other way and thus making a bad decision. The Trippin’ Waite Tarot, which is what I’ve been using for these spreads, depicts a heart with three swords going through it, like the Rider-Waite, but it also has an eye. The middle Sword goes through the eye. This is causing me to look at it as being blinded to an opportunity (Ace of Swords reversed) as a result of a bad decision (2 of Swords reversed, since all the swords are facing upside-down. This is what caused him to see the help of G in the first place, which was his own crossing of the threshold.
Right, so I don’t know if my cards are just being smart asses or too literal, but I got the World. You know, because it’s about a new world. SMH! However, I’m actually choosing to interpret this as an individual who is a nudist. Might be a woman, just for entertainment sake. If my cards are going to be smart with me, I’m going to be smart right back at…me. I suppose that would be being smart at me, rather than the cards.
I got the 6 of Pentacles for this. I think this is because her first display of power is how well liked she is. She can’t be matched because she is seen so well in the community. What’s more, she operates fairly, on a give-and-take system. You give her what she asks for, and she will match your request. You can’t fault her for it. So while this doesn’t make my MC afraid, it makes him not want to go up against her because why on earth would he? Everything is fair…even if it doesn’t sit right with him, and he can’t put his finger on why.
I’m actually quite pleased as much with what the next few cards are, because I see them as lining up perfectly.
So my Turn is the 8 of Swords, in which Percyval has to force himself to see the truth in G’s actions (which is kind of hard because he’s got a thing for her) and realize that his hunch about something not being right was in fact correct. Thus, he has to face himself in order to see the truth and free himself…also so he can pick up a sword against her.
This is the High Priestess. So since there is a lot of this story that is about Percyval trying to find his inner good and his inner power in this story, the fact that G’s inner power, that of the High Priestess, and it being a Major Arcana Card, I think reflects this perfectly. Everything that is the powerful feminine aspect is what she uses as her next display of power. Not only does it cause him to want to save her because of her femininity and his caring for her, but there is a duality of need to balance masculine and feminine energies.
Right, so I read that over and while it makes absolute sense to me, it might not make sense to anyone outside my head. That’s fine, I’ll write the story better when I get to that part and it can make sense then.
Finally, and again, I still think this ties in nicely with everything else, I got the 7 of Cups for my Climax. The Climactic moment is going to be facing and discerning illusions, trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not real when Percival goes up against G. I think this will be very exciting.
How is the planning process going? Keep letting me know how things are going! I can’t wait to hear all about it!
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