New growth

Do you remember the snippet we read earlier from Walk Two Moons, in which Sal's father relocates her from Kentucky to Ohio?

There are multiple conflicts in that story, so we're not spoiling too much to say that in the end Sal and her father return to Kentucky.

Did Sal 'win' the conflict? If so, who did she beat? Her father? Does that make sense?

Read this snippet from the end of the book and see what you notice about the resolution:

Ben and Phoebe and Mrs. Cadaver and Mrs. Partridge are all coming to visit next month. There is a chance that Mr. Birkway might come as well, but Phoebe hopes not, as she does not think she could stand to be in a car for that long with a teacher. My father and I have been scrubbing the house for their visit. I can't wait to show Phoebe and Ben the swimming hole and the fields, the hayloft and the trees, and the cows and the chickens. Blackberry, the chicken that Ben gave me, is queen of the coop, and I'll show Ben her too. I am hoping, also, for some blackberry kisses.

But for now, Gramps has his beagle, and I have a chicken and a singing tree, and that's the way it is.

Huzza, huzza.

This is a different type of resolution to the war in The Third Day, the Frost.

Walk Two Moons' resolution is about growth.

We recognise it's a resolution because Sal has returned home and she now has warm relationships with people like her father and Margaret, instead of fighting with them.

The ending of The Third Day, the Frost is a stalemate, and you could see in the highlighting that there was a balance of protagonist vs antagonist representation.

But Walk Two Moons, the story ends with Sal's growth and developing relationships with her antagonists, which means they are no longer in conflict.

So there are no antagonists highlighted—not because they've been 'defeated', but because they are now friends.

Here are our final zombie and taxidermy examples, but this time we find a resolution that is based on growth, maturity, and the concept of finding home:

On Vincent's 16th birthday, while he was netting dace in the aquaculture pond, Vincent saw a navy boat glide round the bend from Kowloon Bay, as grey-green as the water itself, not huge or elegant but kind of clunky, almost like a metal version of one of those Aztec pyramids, stepping up from a broad base to a tangle of radar dishes and antennas at the top. From the back of the vessel flew an Australian flag.

He reacted so slowly that if the boat hadn't stopped of its own accord, he would have let it pass by completely. But it did stop, and, while sailors in white uniforms walked about on deck, Vincent had enough time to ride back to the station, get Cindy—who was cooking rice and dishing out pickles—grab the fire station bell, then cross the causeway and climb atop a pedestrian overpass where they rang the bell until the sailors saw them and began to whistle and wave.

The yacht club was too infested, so they met by the exhaust vent that came out of the Wanchai bypass, part-way out in the harbour. A couple of sailors came over in a black inflatable boat, warmly loaded them in and then drove them back. Vincent held Cindy's hand while she cried. He watched the receding shore and wondered about the pigs and the chickens and the fish, who would take care of them?

Then the inflatable bumped against the ship and Vincent looked up to see a man who must have been the captain standing at the top of a ladder with a hand extended down towards him.

"Look at that," the captain said. "Someone survived."

Vincent blinked back tears, Cindy squeezed his hand, then they climbed aboard and left Hong Kong behind.

What I've learned is it takes time to build a new life. You leave your old self behind and for a while, what are you? You're a pile of hide on the workbench. And nothing's going to happen if you don't put in the work and the time. You've gotta take those molds and lay those wires and go through this whole process that is such a long way from the end goal, but that's what it takes. One step after the other. And then one day the pieces come together, and there you go, it's a new life. Or some kind of new life, anyway.

I got a job at the museum, helping with the exhibits. Turns out taxidermy is valuable to them, and it's more stable and pays better than the theater. I get to work with artists and scientists and historians. And I still do theater prop and set work, just on the side, for fun and friends. My girlfriend is in IT, not in any of this stuff at all.

Daddy is coming to visit. He likes coming now. I think he's proud of me being at the museum and all; it made it easier for him to let go.

Charlie and I are friends again; the community is too small not to be.

We saw Kenny recently coming out of the Starbucks on Guadalupe with a girl—we both shouted, "Hey, Kenny!" and gave him the finger without even thinking or planning.

I go home sometimes. Dad has an assistant, a young kid who was having some kind of trouble at school and at home, who needed something he could learn to be good at, and on whom Dad could focus his energies. He's good for Dad. And whenever I go back, we all sit in the store together, in silence, gently sculpting the hides of those good, sweet animals into a second kind of life.

While the snippet from Walk Two Moons had no trace of an antagonist force, in the worked examples antagonists are still a minor presence:

  • In the zombies example, the zombies are still a plague, but Vincent and Cindy have created a life that works around them.
  • In the taxidermy example, creepy Kenny is still around, but he no longer has the power that he did back home.

Given the story world you've created, what types of conflict would suit themselves to a growth or maturity resolution?

Describe a new life for the protagonist, showing how the antagonists have either been integrated or sidelined.

If no ideas jump out at you, think about these question:

  • Have any characters been displaced and could either go home, escape, or learn to adapt to their new environment?
  • Are there any conflicts that could be resolved by characters developing skills, knowledge, or relationships?
  • Which antagonists could be integrated into new relationships? Which could be sidelined by changes in circumstances or attitude?

(If you look closely at the worked examples, you'll see both examples use multiple ideas from this list.)

Describe a conflict that resolved by growth, learning, and/or finding a new home.

Now it's time to recap what we've done and choose your favourite responses to use as a checkpoint piece.