0271 - Lowly peasant labour - 2022.12.12



Yes, I'm aware that "prince" and "princess" both derive from an original gender-neutral term, "princeps", not "princex". Yes, I'm also aware that "Mx" is the preferred gender-neutral honorific, not "Mezzer". There's going to be a lot of linguistic drift in the coming century, as anatomy is decoupled from genetics and gender is decoupled from anatomy. That's not what I want to talk about in this note. I want to talk about three-act structures.

I do think that Lee is right, and that Zoa's story, ideally, should be crammed into a three-act structure. I disagree, however, that the essential nature of a three-act story is "little happy, big sad, big happy". I wrote about this in the Bard's Guide To Life: first you establish what is possible, then you show what is likely, then finally you show something that's unlikely but possible.

In Star Wars: A New Hope, for example, we start by showing that space travel and Jedi magic are possible, then we show that defeating the Empire is unlikely, then finally we get to see Luke do something improbable without violating what we've established as possible.

In the case of Forward, here, we started with what is possible - Lee lives in a world with widespread AI, transhumanist medicine, and post-scarcity abundance. Once that's established, we show what's likely - Lee is probably going to sulk and pout their way through a few classes, lose interest, crash and burn, and be evicted.

But, of course, no one wants to read a dog-bites-man story. The whole point of telling a story (rather than simply recounting a statistic) is that you want to describe something interesting, and improbable things are interesting. What's something that the story until now would indicate is unlikely, but, as per the setting and characters we've seen so far, is still possible? What's something that you might not see coming, but that, once, it happens, won't make you yell "oh, bullSHIT!" at your screen?


0271 - 2167/07/07/02:18 - Lee Caldavera's apartment, bedroom
LC: Okay, now give Zee something they need to do.
Zoa: They're a lowly peasant labourer. They do low labour, peasantly.
LC: What kind of labour? What do they spend their days doing?
Zoa: Sucking dick.
LC: Try again.
Zoa: Getting beaten up.
LC: Try again.
Zoa: Being an emotional support aid.
LC: Hmm... that could maybe be our initial plot hook. Maybe Zee was doing farm labour, and the beautiful princex brings them to the castle to serve as a companion.
Zoa: I didn't mention a beautiful princex or a castle.
LC: I'm skipping ahead. There's always a beautiful princex.
Zoa: Noted.
LC: Okay, so... what's the princex's name?
Zoa: Loa. Princex Loa GHS-era.
LC: Giaciesserra is... not bad, actually.
Zoa: So Zee went to live with the GHS-era family in the castle, and.. they all lived happily ever after.
LC: No.
Zoa: No?
LC: Not yet. There needs to be a challenge that the two of them overcome together, and then they fall in love.
Zoa: Is that how love works?
LC: It may or may not be how love works, but I know how stories work, and a story needs a challenge to overcome. Wouldn't hurt to cram it into a three-act structure, if you can manage that. Little happy, then big sad, then big happy at the end.
Zoa: Can the challenge be related to either dick-sucking or getting beaten up? I really feel like I should be playing to my strengths, here...