Romances

In honor of Valentines, I’m reposting this blog for my writing on Wednesday feature.

Disney handles romance well.

That may be the most controversial sentence I’ve ever written. But when it comes to crafting romances from a plot perspective, they know what they’re doing.

The romantic plot arc is a simple one. That’s why it tends to run as a subplot. That doesn’t make it less important, it just means that the plot points of a romance line up with the plot points of the external conflict.

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Like it or not, this is the basic plot structure for every romance ever. “But what about–” you may protest. No, seriously. This is like the monomyth for romance. If a story has a romantic element in it at all, ever, it follows these points, maybe not in this order, but they’re there. Even if the author didn’t do it consciously.

Disney used to get to simplify the attraction stage. Boy sees girl, girl sees boy, boom. Expectations set. Because the early days of Ariel just happening to spot Prince Eric on the boat were done so well, they’ve become cliche. So lately they’ve been poking fun at that expectation with movies like Enchanted or Frozen. Oddly enough in doing so, they created the best example of the initial attraction yet in “Love is an Open Door” simply because they didn’t have the rest of the movie to develop it.

Love is an open door meets all the best requirements for the initial attraction. The characters don’t just connect on a physical level, they see each other. The name of the song has meaning to Anna in that this relationship embodies everything she’s been denied growing up. It’s simultaneously an escape and the thing she’s been missing from her life. Ignoring the whole marriage thing, by the end of the song the audience is rooting for this couple.

The next stage, conflict keeps them apart tends to be where the main plot line rears its ugly head. Ariel is a mermaid not a human, Aladdin is a street rat, not a prince, Anna is already engaged, the spell wears off at midnight, or my favorite, they disagree on fundamentally different levels. Best example of this, the absolute best version of Peter Pan ever made (not disney but included due to awesomeness).

Wendy loves him, she’s pretty sure he loves her, but fear and a fundamentally different outlook on life keep them apart. You’ll notice all my favorite examples come out of movies that did something different with the scenes. Like I said, they can be in different order or be used for a different purpose. Understanding the plot points that are being changed makes those choices stronger.

First kiss is often tied into the resolution of children’s movies and many YA books because  true love’s kiss has become a symbol of finding your one true love. Once you’ve established the characters are together, the tension for that subplot is gone. It’s no longer a building romance. But there are some examples of this. However there are no examples of first kiss coming before the discovery/growing closer stage and few in YA for obvious reasons so I’m gonna tie those together. My favorite example is Aladdin. Their initial attraction was when they were both in Aladdin’s hovel. Their initial conflict keeping them apart was a difference in station, resolving that conflict led to another when Aladdin just kept screwing up, and he finally fixed it by finding common ground in their growing closer scene which was the magic carper ride, which ended with their first kiss.

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Worsening conflict is Wendy being taken by Pirates, Aladdin almost drowning, Ursula impersonating Ariel, Kokoum getting shot, Anna discovering Hans betrayed her. In the children and YA romance structure, there’s almost no breathing room between worsening conflict and black moment, because one leads to another. Aladdin finds himself helpless, powerless and flung far from Jasmine, Ariel finds herself alone on a dock while she watches her love go off to marry another. Anna is freezing to death behind a locked door, Pocahontas hears her love sentenced to death. Pan falling out of the sky. It’s in these moments the characters find their inner strength or break completely. The dark moment leads straight to the climax because finally the characters have what they need to fight and in romance that strength comes from each other. The movie that handled this the best romance wise is Tangled. You think her darkest moment is when she thinks Flynn betrayed her, but that was just worsening conflict. She finds her inner core of strength “Did I mumble, Mother? Or should I even call you that?” But none of that matters when Flynn is stabbed. She breaks. She sacrifices her newfound backbone, her ability to fight to save him and she does it in a strong way. But what makes this scene great is that it’s not just her moment of strength. It’s his. He arcs. The selfish thief is every bit as willing to sacrifice his life to save hers as she is to save his. And for a romance, that’s pretty awesome.

The happily ever after in most romances is true loves kiss, wedding bells in the future, and a happy resolution on all plot points. But sometimes that’s not the case. Peter Pan has Wendy growing up while Peter stays behind and her knowing a part of her will always be with him. UP’s romance ends with the knowledge that Ellie (symbolically the house) is waiting for Carl in paradise and he’ll always miss her but he still has things to live for. Pocahontas ends with John Smith sailing away. Sometimes the best romances are bittersweet.

The ending is never, should never feel like a given. That’s what makes a great romance.

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Transformation

It’s important to note that the hero’s journey has other potential steps. There are seventeen identified stages in the hero’s journey, and some stories have every single one of them. Others only have the major touch stones. And most stories shuffle the order.

Disney and most YA novels have shortened and combined many of the stages. For example, the road of trials and the temptation are often merged and the belly of the whale is often moved around to serve the plot.

To get a much more comprehensive picture of the hero’s journey, check out Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces.

In most simplified hero’s journeys, Transformation occurs right on the heels of the Belly of the Whale. This is when the newly humbled hero embraces their flaws and transforms them into strengths. It’s the moment when Goku turns super-duper seyan. When Sailor Moon unlocks her latest, greatest power, when Joy embraces Sadness and returns to her quest with a renewed sense of vigor, when Hercules literally turns into a god. Simba returns to pride rock transformed into an adult lion that embraces his responsibilities.

My favorite example of this is in Wreck it Ralph when it circles right back to his affirmation. He went through the Belly of the Beast when he wrecked Vanelope’s car. He’s given his medal and finds it to be meaningless. It’s an impressive low point. He starts the road back when he realizes King Candy has deceived him, but he lacks what it would truly take to defeat the big bad until this heart breaking scene, when he comes to terms with who he is and fully accepts himself. Only then, once he’s transformed, can his character arc and the big bad be defeated.

The Belly of the Whale

This is without a doubt the most powerful moment in the hero cycle. Also called the dark night of the soul or “the sad part,” this is where the hero, previous victorious over the trials and at a peak in confidence gets slammed down into reality, most often by a combination of a show of strength from the big bad and a crippling character flaw that can no longer be ignored. They sink into the darkness, confront it, and emerge stronger. It is the moment a hero becomes a hero. See, the bad guys go through a hero cycle to, somewhere in their backstory. And their belly of the whale moment is one they never overcame. They sank and kept on sinking. Example: The ending of Episode 3 of Star Wars was Anakin’s belly of the whale. Had he confronted his flaws, embraced them as strengths, and emerged, humble, but stronger, it would have been an entirely different universe.

The most powerful example of this for heroes I’ve seen in a long time is in Inside Out when Joy ends up in the memory dump.

I’ve already talked about how amazing this scene was at length, so I’ll shut up about it now. But there are a lot of other great examples. In Lilo and Stitch it’s the “I’m Lost” moment, in The Croods it’s the Cave Scene, In Finding Nemo, the Belly of the Whale moment happens in a whale.

Actually, let’s talk about Pixar in general. Remember how I said the villain is a would be hero who failed their darkest night of the soul? Pixar often plays with this idea by making, not deeply empathetic villains, but delayed heroes. Marlin goes through a belly of the whale moment when he loses his wife and all the other eggs. Arguably the entire movie from the end of the opening montage on is him crawling out of the abyss and becoming stronger for it. Ditto for Carl in Up. They still get a full hero’s journey once they receive their second call to adventure, but what we witness in the first few minutes of those movies is where their first journey ended abruptly in a pit of despair, leaving them unfinished as characters. It’s a brilliant writing trick that Pixar executed flawlessly.

Movie Monday: The Road of Trials

After the hero crosses the threshold into the extraordinary world, they begin the road of trials. Often called try/fail cycles, this portion of the story has the hero going against challenge after challenge, failing miserably, then slowly beginning to master their power until they reach the top of their game, only to be shot down into the belly of the beast. But more on that next week.

This also tends to be where character flaws are exposed. The character may get arrogant or show impatience or loss of temper or some flaw that will have to be overcome for them to win later. That flaw is part of what drags them down into the belly of the whale.

Disney does this well with montage. My favorite montage that shows this journey is from Mulan. The many montage songs in this movie feature her trying, failing, trying failing, trying succeeding, trying succeeding, until the last song ends, the stakes raise, she succeeds in one really impressive moment, but that success leads into her downfall.

Other examples include Hercules fighting the monsters, Lilo and Stitch and Nani all dancing around each other, screwing up what the other was trying to accomplish, Mr. Incredible fighting on the island, Carl and Russel making their way through the strange land to Paradise Falls, Rapunzel and Flynn’s trip to the castle, Ralph’s foray through the other games, Ana’s journey to Elsa, and Hiro’s training montage in Big Hero Six. This is the part of the story where manageable and sometimes even humorous problems pop up. It serves as training, confidence builders (or breakers), and landmarks on the journey. I envy Disney’s ability to montage it, because it’s a lot harder to develop in written fiction. The midpoint where everything changes is clear, the start point where everything changes is clear to most writers, it’s the learning curve that’s hard to plot.

Movie Monday: The Extraordinary World

Last week, I talked about the call of adventure and how the acceptance (or refusal and then forced acceptance) of that call acts as a transition point in the story. After accepting the call, the hero leaves the ordinary world and steps into the extraordinary world. Disney tends to handle this in a song or a dramatic pan out.

Identifying the extraordinary world is as simple as stepping through the wardrobe or leaving the shire to journey to the great beyond. In some cases the extraordinary world is as simple as being not home. In others, characters are taken somewhere magical and amazing.

I’m going to use the same examples as I did in the post, the ordinary world, just for clarity.

In How to Train Your Dragon, the extraordinary world wasn’t a place, it was a realization that changed Hiccup’s entire world view. The realization that dragons didn’t have to be their enemy, that instead they could be your best friend was the extraordinary world. And for huge chunks of the movie, the ordinary world and the extraordinary world were kept separate with Hiccup splitting his time between each one and using the tricks from one to master the other. Things only got messy when the worlds collided. It was a really interesting take on the ordinary/extraordinary world and it made the typical hero’s journey fresh and interesting. Here’s my favorite scene showing the extraordinary world from How to Train Your Dragon.This incidentally also marks the end of the first trial.

In the sequel, the extraordinary world was a place. Further and further from Berk. But again there’s an interesting inversion because the way Berk is presented makes IT the extraordinary world to rest of the archipelago.

In the Croods the extraordinary world is everywhere but their cave. The further away they go, the more extraordinary it gets. In Inside Out, the extraordinary world is everything outside of central headquarters. Same deal with Rapunzel and her tower. Belle’s extraordinary world was the Beast’s castle. In the Swan Princess the extraordinary world was the enchanted lake. UP’s extraordinary world was Paradise Falls. In Wreck it Ralph, it was other games.

When the extraordinary world is a place, the protagonist has one of two goals regarding it. To get out of it and go home, or to get as far from ordinary as they possibly can. The hero’s journey is a journey after all. And most journeys have a destination. However there is one special kind of hero’s journey that’s takes a bit more interpretation. When the extraordinary world is a person.

Whether it’s a manic pixie dream girl or a cat, a magical nanny, or a cat in the hat, these journeys occur when some strange and extraordinary stranger intrudes on the ordinary world and forces it to change to become extraordinary with it. For instance, in Enchanted the the extraordinary world depends on your protagonist. For Giselle, it’s New York. For Robert it’s Giselle and her strange ways wreaking havoc in his slice of life.

In Big Hero Six the extraordinary world was Baymax. It fits all the requirements, Hiro even returns to the normal world at the end of the movie, changed. Monster’s INC’s extraordinary world was our world to some extent, but to a larger extent Boo.

Can you think of any other examples where the extraordinary world was a person?

 

Movie Monday: The Call to Adventure

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Last week I talked about the Ordinary World, sometimes called the slice of life, and basically sets up the day to day existence for the hero before they begin their journey. Today, I’m going to be talking about the first step of their journey, the call to adventure. This is when everything changes.

Joy and Sadness are sucked into the memory tube.

Elsa runs away and freezes everything, so Anna must go find her.

Ralph is challenged to get his own medal.

Sometimes this moment is also called the inciting incident. My favorite example is from Hercules, because you see his longing to leave the ordinary world and since he doesn’t refuse the call, it’s a very simple transition. Also the entire call to adventure is featured in song form, which makes it extra fun :D.

But sometimes heroes refuse the call to adventure and decide to stay home so the plot rises up and forces them on the journey through some other means. For example: In Big Hero Six, Hiro’s call to action is to go to Nerd School (it’s important to note the call to adventure is often a false promise or a deceptively simple task that turns into something much more complex than ever imagined), but when he does get in, the entire accomplishment is fraught with so much tragedy that he doesn’t go. He stops inventing, he stops everything until Baymax notices his nanobots are behaving strangely and forces Hiro into an investigation.

Spiderman doesn’t go after the thief, is instantly and swiftly punished for ignoring the call, and goes on to fight crime.

Aang runs away from his responsibilities as avatar and ends up frozen for a hundred years and wakes up to see the consequences of his inaction.

Simba refuses his call to adventure when Nala first approaches him. It takes being beaten by Rafiki and guilted by his dead father before he realizes he can’t hide anymore. It’s my favorite example of refusal of the call because the consequences are there and laid out. He knows people are suffering because of his refusal (I refuse to acknowledge the argument that his initial refusal was when he ran away in the first place. All that would have done is gotten him murdered) but his refusal is articulate and intentioned and so utterly painful that you feel for him the entire speech.

 


Accepted or refused, once the hero responds to the call to adventure, they are transported from the ordinary world into the extraordinary world and everything changes.

Movie Monday: The Ordinary World

 

There are a variety of plot structures to choose from when writing a story, but by far the most famous and prevalent is the Hero’s Journey. You can find echoes of it in every story ever told.

Star Wars is the most famous example, and as much of a fan as I am, there’s enough out there on how it matches line for line. So instead, I’m going to focus on a different aspect of the hero’s journey every week and match it to the relevant scene in a movie.

Why movies not books?

Well for starters, unless I want to go with the classical cannon, there’s a much better chance of everyone having seen the same movie than reading the same book. There’s also a better chance of someone remembering a specific scene from said movie or book. And because movies are so much more compact, the elements of the story are very specific and easy to point to, whereas in a book it may be much more subtle and may unfold over much more time.

Part one of the hero’s journey is establishing the ordinary world. In other plot structure’s you’ll see this called “slice of life.” Cartoons tend to do this very well with voiceovers (Hiccup’s “This is Berk” narrative, the Crood’s mini-cartoon at the beginning, Welcome to Riley’s Brain in Inside Out), songs (Rapunzel’s tower song, Belle’s “Bonjour,” or “This is my idea” from Swan Princess), and montages (Big Hero Six, UP, and Monster’s INC).

The BEST example I can think of for establishing the ordinary world is “Wreck it Ralph.” In this scene, Ralph gives a voice over that serves a function in the narrative instead of just being an info dump. His narrative establishes his conflict, establishes the rules of the world, his role within it and the theme of accepting himself for who he is (I’m bad, and that’s good…) But what makes this moment the best example is everything that happens in the background. Sonic establishes the limits of the world, Surge Protector establishes his bias against “bad guys,” the bus moving through the power cables establishes how they can hop from one game to another, there’s even a reference to Turbo. A million things are established in the one scene, but it does not begin the journey. It establishes the slice of life.

What are some of your favorite slice of life moments?

Movie Monday: Interstellar

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Let’s talk about plot holes.

A plot hole is when there is a glaringly obvious hole in your story telling that should have ended your story or altered the outcome of the plot. It is not something you wish the main character had done differently. It is not events that you wish would have played out a different way. A plot hole is when the willing suspension of disbelief snaps because the author hasn’t paid enough attention to their own details.

Take Interstellar for example. It’s a good movie. It must be a good movie, because I watched it days ago and I’m still furious. A good story is one that gets a reaction out of the people experiencing it. I connected to the plot and cared deeply about the outcome. But good or not, there are some glaring and unavoidable plot holes.

Interstellar features a dying earth gasping its last breath. A blight that thrives on nitrogen has been killing off all the plant life on earth. People are starving. With every infected plant type, the blight gets stronger because the lack of plants = less oxygen in our already nitrogen rich air.

The movie spends a lot of time establishing earth and making you care about one family scrounging their way by on their farm. The family features an adorable, brilliant little girl, an obedient, happy son, a sentimental grandfather, and an unhappy dad. He doesn’t want to be a farmer, he was a great pilot once.

So stuff happens and pilot ends up getting hired by NASA to take a space ship through a wormhole into another galaxy in search of a new earth. There’s other people, but plot wise no one matters quite as much as the father and daughter. Dad chooses to leave his family behind on a dying planet for an untold number of years in hopes of saving them one day. This is a point of contention for me. I’m sad he left his family. I think he should have negotiated that they go into cryosleep (that’s a thing in this story) on the ship where they could be awoken either when they find a nice planet or when they return home unsuccessful. It’s a thing that makes me angry. It is not however a plot hole.

A plot hole is a society in the future having less capabilities but more technology then we do now when it comes to exploring new planets. A decade ago, NASA sent twelve scientists to explore potential planets and see if they were habitable. They indicated they sent probes prior to the people (which in terms of the time planet makes no sense because they shouldn’t have gotten results yet, but whatever).  They chose people instead of their super advanced robots who could communicate because humans can improvise. Okay. Sure. I mean, sending the robots first and THEN people would make more sense,but there’s some bigger issues here.

Let’s look at some of the planets. Planet 1. A water planet where time is warped due to its proximity to a black hole. The scientist has been sending back good readings. Lots of them. But when they get there they discover she’s dead because it’s a water planet (giant waves, no apparent land) and the same signal just sent over and over again because of time and stuff. But by their own math, the lady was only down there for an hour and a half. So shouldn’t they have been wondering why they had a decades worth of messages from her? Also, why land there at all? The woman, who is a scientist for NASA would have only needed to make an orbit around the planet to note that there’s no apparent land and massive waves that will kill you dead. Those are the sorts of things you can see in space. Sort of like how we’ve never been on Jupiter but we know there’s a giant storm there?

Next planet. Frozen tundra with frozen clouds and ammonia for air. We can tell what planets are made of just by looking at them. It’s called spectrography. We’ve had the ability to do that since the 1800’s. No need to send a scientist there.

A character drives through a black hole instead of being crushed into a singularity. Plan B for humanity is a billion frozen fertilized eggs and they sent only one woman on the mission. I actually feel like I missed an explanation there, so if I did please enlighten me. A character causes a major paradox in the time space continuum that really shouldn’t be possible, but that one I’d be willing to suspend belief for if the other plot holes weren’t so maddening.

Like why not have three technically habitable planets with some other massive issue a probe couldn’t pick up? Like maybe other forms of monstrous life? There was so much more that could be done. And again, why go to the planet that cost the main character so much precious time away from his super cute daughter when you can SEE it isn’t habitable and even if there’s some reason they can’t see that (maybe black holes interfere with vision) maybe give your scientist already on the planet more than an day on the surface to investigate? Every hour that passes there = 7 years on earth. So…maybe go to that one last if none of the others work out because really, what were they hoping to discover? It was so important to retrieve the scientists data but they literally forgot she wouldn’t have had time to gather it (she was sent ten years ago, it takes two years to get there).

 

Another major plot hole is a big spoiler.

 

 

Big Spoiler!!!!

 

Okay so if the professor solving the math problem knew that there was no hope for the people on earth,  shouldn’t they have sent more people with each mission?  I mean, in the interest of potentially getting more people off earth and into space? Just seems like a thing that should have been considered. Use those ships to their max. Also, I get not telling everyone and spreading panic, but he broke up a family. Sorry, no. You don’t get to decide, “the human race is gonna die unless we send these eggs to a habitable planet. So this guy doesn’t get to die with his kids. He’s going to think he’s coming back, but not really.” No. Saving all the people on earth is a noble goal. Creating new people on another planet, not so much. Humans don’t deserve to continue on just by virtue of being human. The people alive matter more than the people who would have never existed if plan A had any chance of succeeding. Don’t lie and tell this guy he’s saving his kids when he’s really leaving them to die. And as a parent, don’t fricken leave your kids on a dying planet! Like, best case scenario, you find a habitable planet. Your kids are breathing in more and more dust and life sucks at home, but yay, you saved them. What’s to say NASA doesn’t have a list of who can fit on that space station? I mean, from what I can tell, literally every other country on the planet ceased to exist, so what happens if the one percent decides there’s more resources if the farmers stay home? They don’t know the planet is dying anyway. You have no assurances your family is going to be rescued once they leave your sight. Take care of your fricken kids.

Grr! Okay, last half of that paragraph not a plot hole, just a plot preference, but it really bothered me!

Anyway, plot holes are infuriating and you should try to avoid them in your work because they take readers out of the story.

Motifs and The Croods

Welcome back to movie Monday! We’ve talked a bit about plot and soon we’ll get into different plot structures. We’ve also talked a bit about characters and their development. But today we’re going to talk about something a bit more subtle.

Motifs. A Motifs is a recurring symbol that links to the theme of a work. Let’s back up there and talk about symbols.

In a story, a symbol is basically an object that has deeper meaning than itself. For instance, in many stories light is just light. It may be darkened or lightened to match mood, just like different objects may be swapped out to establish settings (swords instead of guns to indicate time period for instance) but in many cases light simply acts as light.

Light is often used as a symbol. When shadows overtake the land, it’s often a symbol of evil conquering. When a candle is snuffed out, it’s often a symbol of death. Sunset is often a symbol of old age or endings and sunrise of youth and beginnings. Light doesn’t become a motif until it’s used repeatedly in the story as a symbol for the same thing. The best, absolute best example of this in animation is in Dreamwork’s The Croods.

Light is a symbol for growth and innovation in the Croods, darkness for stagnation, death by standing still. Literally every use of light in the film is intentional and it’s always used to mean the same thing.

Their cave is dark, the closer they get to the cave, the narrower the light grows. The further they go from the cave, the brighter the landscape. Even night is more illuminated away from the canyon/cave area.  When they leave their home, they fall through a shaft of light.

Eep chases the light, craves it. Grug hides from it, fears it. Guy brings light, and with it change. His parent’s last words were “follow the sun, and you’ll make it to tomorrow.”

Also the saddest thing I’ve ever heard because he took tomorrow to mean a place when what they were actually telling him was that he’d LIVE to tomorrow. But tomorrow as a place made for a beautiful quest arc, so I also love it.

He tells stories about a tiger (symbolically Eep) riding on the sun to tomorrow. That majorly plays into the ending. Embers and light and hands dancing in shafts of sun are images that keep coming back throughout the movie. I mean look at all of this.

You can’t go thirty seconds in that movie without seeing light acting as a symbol that supports the theme. They did an incredible job (and missed out on a major opportunity by not having the ending credit songs be that “Follow the day and reach for the sun” song). I maintain the ending would be a thousand times stronger if it had ended during this scene and the narrative would have been stronger.

And if at any points any of the characters acknowledged that Grug kept them alive for decades and they wouldn’t have gotten to a place where they could grow/change without him. Just as light needs darkness to shine, innovation needs a foundation on which to grow.

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What are left-overs?  Something much easier to come by when you’re only responsible for feeding yourself and not a family of six.

But what can you do?

 

Movie Monday: Plot and Lilo and Stitch

So when I mentioned the hero cycle last week in reference to inside out, it got me thinking. While summarizing and reviewing movies is fun, there’s way to tie it to writing. Movies are great at demonstrating literary elements! Particularly children’s movies because they have to do everything in a much more concise way.

So until Mythology Monday returns, I’m going to be highlighting some basic literary concepts using disney movies.

Let’s start with the most basic. Plot. Promise we’ll get more complex from here, just stick with me.

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A plot is a sequence of events. Basically, the story. A typical plot line is comprised of the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and the resolution. You can get more complex than this, but in any plot line you are going to find these elements.

So what’s all that stuff? Let’s look at Lilo and Stitch for an example.

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The exposition is the background stuff established at the start of the movie. We see Stitch’s trial, a slice of life for Lilo, and a separate yet integrated slice of life for Nani. We’re quickly introduced to the rules of the world and the character’s wants, needs, and goals within it.

The inciting incident is another plot point that occurs before the rising action. It’s the first domino that falls and starts the chain of events that keeps the rest of the show going. In Lilo and Stitch the inciting incident is Stitch crashing onto the planet.

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The rising action can typically be summarized as “There’s a problem. The character tries to fix it but makes it worse. Then they try to fix that and makes THAT worse, until the Climax when things get REALLY bad.”

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In Lilo and Stitch there are three subplots working to form the overarching plot. Lilo wants to make Stitch a part of her family, but she is consistently undermined by Stitch causing chaos by trying to avoid capture, which wrecks Nani’s attempts to keep her family together.  The conflict of these three separate sub plots bumping against each other builds and builds and builds until it crashes around them in the Belly of the Whale moment when Nani realizes she is going to lose Lilo and Stitch runs away. You could argue the belly of the whale moment is when Nani is demanding that Stitch get her back, but the moment is too swift and one of the hallmarks for the belly of the whale moment is that the character has time to marinate in how much life sucks.

The Climax is the highest point in the plot. The most stuff is happening and it’s all very fast paced and stops just short of resolving the plot. In Lilo and stitch this occurs when the three plot lines stop simply bumping into each other and truly merge. Stitch fights off his pursuers, destroying Lilo’s house and alerting the social worker, and just when it looks like things can’t get any worse, Lilo is kidnapped and Stitch demonstrates how much his character has changed by trying to save her while emphasizing the theme, Ohana.

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The falling action is where the pieces start to get picked up. The battle may still be ongoing, but the tide has turned to reveal a clear winner but there are still some threats to be dealt with. In Lilo and Stitch the falling action is pretty concisely the conversation with the councilwoman. Lilo is out of danger, but Nani could still lose her and Stitch could still be arrested. The conversation that follows neatly clicks everything into place, solves a mystery, and leads the characters to their resolution, the happily ever after,  which is shown in montage form.

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And that, my friends, is a plot. Also, an amazing movie, seriously, watch it. Watch it again. It’s worth it.