According to Shawn Coyne, author of The Story Grid, each beat [an identifiable moment of change], scene, sequence of scenes, act, and story has the following:
“Here they are in outline form:
- Inciting Incident
- Progressive Complication
- Active Turning Point
- Revelatory Turning Point
- The Best Bad choice
- Irreconcilable goods
These five elements must be clearly defined and executed for each unit of story.”
So, scene 1 of the J & J contemporary story will be the first line of the poem:
Jack and Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water.
Jack and Jill work for Dob’s Advertising. There’s a big meeting coming up, and Mrs. Dob (the senior executive) has to have her coffee. The coffee maker is broken. Jack is an intern and Jill is a junior advertising executive. There is a meeting that Mrs. Dob’s needs her coffee for. It is important to Jill to please Mrs. Dob and it is important to Jack to learn how Jill does her job, so that he can take that job, with the future goal of becoming an advertising executive once he impresses Mrs. Dob with his skills. Jack is not amused at being a gofer and Jill has better things to do than babysit Jack. Mrs. Dob doesn’t care about either of them as long as they do what she asks.
“Jill,” Mrs. Dob’s warning-buzzer voice sounded out. All nearby staff of the advertisement office froze in dread or anticipation. “Did the service company repair that coffee maker yet?”
Jill looked up from reading a sheet of ad copy and met Jack’s eyes. Her eyes reminded him of a rat’s. She flashed a small, feral smile, and got up to answer her boss, swishing past him in her pencil skirt and impossibly high-heeled shoes. If she weren’t his internship boss, he’d think she’d be right at home at a strip club or maybe an S & M club.
His vision of the junior ad exec in handcuffs changed to her holding the whip when she said, “Oh Jack, we have an errand to run.”
Of course it had to be snowing, and of course the coffee shop that Mrs. Dob wanted coffee from had to be at the top of a particularly steep hill. Jill, out of her striper shoes and in snow boots, turned out to be slightly shorter than he. Jack trudged up the icy side walk behind her, noting that her long lavender coat diminished her dominatrix-y aura. Yet she still swished.
“You know,” he said, increasing his pace a little so that he walked beside her. He forgot what he was about to say, pausing to watch as a snow plough did a controlled slide down the hill. It took out the side-view mirror of an unfortunate Audi 500. Jill hissed at the crunch, but didn’t stop. He caught up with her again and she said “What?”
“I could have come up here without you. I think I know how to get coffee.”
She snorted and said, “Mrs. Dob was exceptionally specific about my supervisory position. You are not to be trusted to do complicated or important things on your own.”
“And getting coffee is complicated?”
She didn’t answer that, but looked back down the hill at the sound of another car losing its mirror. “Damn it,” she muttered, raising her arm as if to wave at the plough driver. She dropped it back with a growl. “Damn full parking garage.”
“Was that your car?” Jack smothered the urge to laugh.
She gave him a death look and stomped up the hill with more determination, leaving Jack to scramble after.