I'm gonna be real, The Force Awakens has a terrible second act and very sloppy editing, but that beginning and ending are STRONG.
I wish they'd given that script just one more pass. They fucked up the break into two real bad.
The problems, to my mind, with the middle build of The Force Awakens? Rey doesn't choose the Millennium Falcon. The break into act 2 should be an active choice. She does choose to leave, and it's okay that it's a best bad choice (leave or die), but that thing where she isn't actively deciding to take the robot back on the Millennium Falcon? She's sort of a passenger through the WHOLE middle build in every regard. And that's a problem.
She can still refuse the call! But "Okay, let's run to the Millennium Falcon, return this robot to the resistance so I can go back home!!" would be SO much more character-driven than getting swept up in everybody else's story. It just kinda fumbles and feels aimless and like a series of events until about the time she picks up the lightsaber.
Which is basically the inciting incident to the break into act 3, because then she runs into the forest (a choice) and *chooses* to try and shoot Kylo.
On one hand, the aimless fumbling could be attributed to the whole "the force works in mysterious ways" thing (and I'm saying this with only partial memory of the film), essentially the idea that the force will ever so slightly twist events in unseen ways to ensure they get on the Millennium Falcon and find Luke Skywalker's lightsaber etc.
On the other hand, no one would probably even consider that possibility unless they were some kind of need who kept avoiding their uni coursework to read star wars comics (that are no longer canon)
So if that was their intention, they didn't do the best job of it
@JosephCuncarr They can do that in inciting incidents, but you cannot have an act turn on coincidence (or the force). The act must break on a voluntary choice of some kind. Must. Like, even if you know it’s the Force, it’s a problem of story momentum. It’s boring to watch people just float along and make no choices whatsoever for an hour.
@JosephCuncarr There are ways to inject agency in. Have her repeatedly Refuse The Call (which she does as a break into act 3). Have the inciting incident be a little more improbable from her point of view. But when you break into 2, it needs to be a protagonist’s choice or act 2 is GONNA have problems.
@JosephCuncarr But yeah, you nailed the problem they were trying to solve. How do we convey The Force is at work and keep stuff moving?”
Sadly, I think they did neither.
Yeah, I think maybe the thing for them to remember at the end of the day is that The Force doesn't actually work as it's own protagonist, so giving it agency at the expense of your characters is a risky move at best. The Old Republic comics did a similar thing, but whatever the outcome of an event, the protagonists always had a clear intention going in, which I feel avoided this problem
@JosephCuncarr Yeah, I mean, it’s fine for a protagonist to interact with forces outside of themselves, but the story is ultimately a story is organized as a chain of protagonist choices. That’s the through line. Lose it, it’s just a series of events.
By the way, every time you talk about writing I feel a little bit smarter, so thank you for that! :')
General Communism, writing, and shitposts.