Finally! The last exercise from chapter 2 is this third one.
Using a structure diagram, map out your current plot. (I plotted my next novel, Awake & Asleep.) Come up with a disturbance scene and events that make up the two doorways of no return. (Done.) Write these down in summary form. (Below.) Tweak them to make them original and involving. (Let’s find out.)
Central questions I want to explore as an artist: What’s stronger, love or friendship? How do we let go of the past, embrace the future, and enter the middle act of our life (adulthood)? Why is philosophy important?
Summary: Over the course of a night, two ex best friends recount their falling out, sixteen years in the past during a summer backpacking trip, thereby redefining their relationship as well as who they ought to be.
Lead: Juan Saudade, a sexy celebrity professor, who had once filled a missing piece of western thought, now can’t seem to grow up — lamenting a failed marriage, sleeping with his students, getting drunk, and writing a novel in which he hopes to vindicate his immaturity.
Objective: If only he were forgiven for his wrongs, he believes he can move on. What he realizes on this journey is that he needs to mature, not wallow in the past. A clarified objective becomes to embody the right state of mind and his real values.
Confrontation: His immaturity, a skewed view of the past, lack of honest conversation, his ex-friend, a toxic definition of love, superficiality in himself and others.
Knockout: finds forgiveness, goes on another adventure, enters adulthood and faces the great unknown fearlessly.
Disturbance: His ex best friend, after sixteen years of silence, returns an email in which Juan begged for forgiveness.
Act I: We find that the original email had been the draft of an entire novel — yes begging for forgiveness, but also recounting the events of their last summer together in Southeast Asia. Instead of sending an immediate response the friend spent the next decade and a half writing his version and that’s the email that disturbed Juan. It had nothing to do with how he saw it. In the meantime, Juan found success in his career, married the woman of his dreams, and continued editing the original manuscript with the hopes of publishing it. But after receiving that disturbance Juan begins to see his life as a shame. A nightmare. Impossible to publish, when his desire is to rewrite the past and justify what he did. (It’s the start of a new semester at university.)
Door 1, or point of no return to life as is: his ex best friend knocks on the door later that night. He has been in town all day, exhibiting an incredible photo collection, his early work, which was selling well. But instead of going to the after party, he drove to his ex best friend, to settle the score. They crack open a beer and inevitably decide to spend the entire night telling the story of their last summer together.
Act II: Is the story. They both are college grads, full of ambition, with strong starts to what society considers adult life. Except the photographer friend bombs his first show and becomes the town’s laughing stock. Meanwhile Juan gets arrested for public intoxication. This way they both take a journey abroad, to get away from the drama back home. At the end, however, Juan and his friend experience mounting tension over drugs and women. For example, the photographer meets who will eventually become his wife, from Uruguay like Juan. Unfortunately Juan sabotages their romantic meeting by sleeping with her. Even though the lovers end up married, the two friends never see each other again. Their lives fork.
Door 2, or the next point of no return, something’s got to give: Juan vocalizes his problem, that he has never been able to forgive himself for what happened. The friend also vocalizes his problem, that it was Juan who he really loved. Juan must reject his friend and the friend leaves the house. Troubled, light-headed, Juan wants to make amends with his wife, put his own house in order, when upstairs he finds his wife in bed with another man. They had been fornicating this entire night, while Juan was reliving his adventure downstairs with his ex best friend. He asks for a divorce.
Act III: Opens with a deleted scene between the two best friends, where they swear that no matter what happens they will always be soul brothers. Maybe this is the bond one confused with love, which the other broke carelessly. We end with Juan racing to the airport where his friend is checking-in his bag. They have a revelation: let’s do the trip over again. They fly. And all is gravy. (Except his job, which blows up since he leaves his students without a professor.)