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Write Your Novel
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By Melanie Anne Phillips
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~ Step 130 ~

Projecting Counterpoint – Act Three

The emotional argument of your theme is between the message issue and the counterpoint.  But the question arises, "How does the audience know which is the message issue and which is the counterpoint?"

Simply put, the message issue is the human quality being directly explored in your story.  The counterpoint provides contrast to the message issue.  In a practical sense, the message issue must appear forefront, and the counterpoint paints the background.  This is accomplished solely through your storytelling approach.

The message issue is identified by being shown in sharp, definitive illustrations.  The counterpoint becomes the background contrast by employing illustrations that are more generalized or nebulous.

For example, in "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge's lack of generosity is shown in defined moments of specific choices, dialogs, and actions.  But the counterpoint of generosity is illustrated nebulously through the prevailing good cheer and group activities of the other characters and the populace of London in general - the giving Christmas Spirit, as it were.

In act three, if you have not done so already, you need to clearly establish which of the two sides of your thematic argument is the message issue and which is the counterpoint, using the methods described above.

For this step, choose the illustrations of your counterpoint you have already developed but not previously used in acts one and two that will show its direct importance to the life of the readers.  If you don’t have enough instances, develop some additional ones.