Lesson 16: From Rising Action to Crisis

Writing Exercise

In a lot of stories, the characters know what they want early on, and the rest of the story shows them pursuing that goal (with some setbacks) until they finally reach it. A lot of sports movies fit this pattern: a ragtag team of losers get off to a rocky start and face some setbacks, but thanks to their hard work and determination, plus a little luck, they win the championship that seemed like a pipe dream at the beginning of the movie. That championship is the “peak” on Freytag’s Pyramid.

But other stories have a “false peak.” The characters think they are headed toward some goal, but when they get there, they realize that there’s another, bigger peak that they are actually pushing toward—one that they couldn’t see before.

Think of a “false peak” story you’re read in a book or seen in a movie. Then answer the following questions:

  1. What is the “false peak” that is the characters’ goal early on?
  2. What is the “true peak” that they end up pursuing?
  3. How would you describe the process by which the characters change their focus from the false peak to the true peak?