A couple of weeks ago, me and Dal Maclean hosted Josh Lanyon's FB page for a few days. We decided to talk about traditional narrative structure. Then we had the brainwave to do a crossover between my starry-eyed lovers Binky and Brutus and Dal's alter-ego, Dal Carrington Colby Dexter. Here's the transcript, in case you missed the fun. :)
We’ll be demonstrating a simple three-act plot. The Premise, the Complication and the Conclusion.
Here to help me is Romancelandia’s own, Binky & Brutus in
“Peril on Cantina Island Part One: The Premise”
During the premise the characters and main conflict are established.
Our story finds our protagonist, cosmetic surgeon Dr. Binky looking forward to a much deserved lover’s getaway with his perpetual boyfriend Brutus on sunny Santa Cantina Island, where the margaritas flow like water.
But Binky has one last client to see:
In the last exam room at the end of the hall, beneath a flickering fluorescent lightbulb sat a woman wearing a wide hat and a long black veil.
“Hi I’m Dr. Binky,” he said. “What can I do for you?”
The woman raised her head and pulled back the veil, Binky could see that she wore full make-up most notably, glossy scarlet lipstick on a smirking mouth. Binky realized then that her shoulder pads were tipped with what looked like bright silver blades.
“Are you the Dr. Binky whose perpetual boyfriend Brutus has been hired to fly the 24 carat gold-plated helicopter at the Cantina Island Tequila Mixer this weekend?”
“Why yes,” Binky replied. “I love you accent. Are you from England?”
“Dal Carrington Colby Dexter isn’t confined to one paltry nation. She is a global icon,” she declared. With a movement of sweeping melodrama she whipped off her hat to reveal rippling two-yard long magenta hair. “Consider yourself honored that Dal Carrington Colby Dexter has chosen you to serve in her vital work!”
Suddenly there was the strange smell of ant spray. Dr. Binky’s world went swimmy and he fell to the ground. Binky found himself laying on the floor of his own office His body felt weird—he lifted up his hand and saw a blood red manicure. He clutched his chest and felt a boob! Then another.
The woman had switched bodies with him. But how and who was she? And more than anything WHY?!? He tried to stand and call for help but this hair was everywhere. It lashed out against him, tripping him and wrapping around his neck as if to strangle him. Finally he’d had enough. He reached out and grabbed for the botox.
“I am not in the mood for a bad hair day!” he hissed, jamming the needle into his scalp. Almost instantly the wild mop grew sluggish. He grabbed a length of surgical tubing and wrestled the mass into a ponytail. The tresses shivered once more and hissed, then fell limp.
Binky needed to figure out how to get his body back. So he emptied out the contents of the handbag the strange woman had left behind. There he saw a small book bound in gold with and heart-shaped emerald clasp. Could it be a secret diary? He knew it was wrong to intrude on a lady’s private thoughts, but dang it! She’d taken his body. So he decided to read it anyway.
Monday: Dear Diary, Yet another interminable day in a rat infested padded cell in Equatorial Guinea.
Ever since Josh struck back after an entirely justified attempt to take over her galactic empire, (and what did happen to ‘Jake Riordan Saves The Day 143’ BY THE WAY?) her evil minions have thwarted every cunning attempt at escape by Dal Carrington Colby Dexter.
And yet, as she dictates this diary with the power of her mind alone -- given her arms are confined in a straitjacket --, she already has another plan in action. Dal Carrington Colby Dexter is more than a match for their feeble little brains.
Binky frowned with puzzlement. Why was Dal Carrington Colby Dexter referring to herself in the third person? Maybe it was an English thing… He read on.
Tuesday: There is no more time to waste. The prototype of an identity- swapping machine (made from coconut hemp and two hundred and seventeen surprised and reluctant ants) must be pushed into operation without delay -- or testing. Rumors are bubbling of a possible crisis which could well threaten the future of civilization as we know it. Or as Dal Carrington Colby Dexter knows it, which is objectively more important
Wednesday: The treachery is confirmed. Roarke Rex Alamain Dexter the Fifth, the man who had the impossible good fortune to marry Dal Carrington Colby Dexter, has lost his mind. He has taken advantage of Dal Carrington Colby Dexter’s tiny local difficulty in Equatorial Guinea, to divorce her! And marry a twenty-year-old strumpet from Sweden named Helga. Worse, far worse he has banned Dal Carrington Colby Dexter from Cantina Island! And he plans to sell Dal Carrington Colby Dexter’s beloved 24 carat gold-plated helicopter! And for what? To buy Helga the hussy, a platinum coated jet ski. Has he lost all sense of right and wrong?
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter is betrayed!
Thursday: The identity-swapping machine is poised and ready. Dal Carrington Colby Dexter, through simple charm and Machiavellian manipulation has already used multiple clones of Jake Riordan to subvert the loyalty of certain Fanyons who shall remain nameless. Is the Lear jet fuelled and ready, Steve?
Binky’s heart went out to her. A woman scorned! And unable to retrieve her own dangerously heavy helicopter. No wonder she’d resorted to this mind swap! Binky wanted to help her, but how could he get onto the island in Ms.Dexter’s body?
Security for the Cantina Tequila Mixer would be tight and he was in the body of a woman who wasn’t even allowed on the island. If only he could call Brutus for help! But Brutus had already gone ahead to the island and the cell phone reception there was terrible.
No, he would have to find a way onto the island himself to help Ms. Dexter and get his own body back.
I’m back with my co-host Dal Maclean to talk about traditional narrative structure by demonstrating a simple three-act plot comprised of a Premise, a Complication and a Conclusion. Without further ado please enjoy:
“Peril on Cantina Island Part Two: The Complication”
During the Complication the character reaches their lowest point and seems farthest away from achieving their goal. At the end of Act Two the main character makes a change that allows them to win.
We pick up the story from Dal Carrington Colby Dexter’s POV
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter gazed down at her new body in some consternation. She had consumed her usual breakfast of eleven double vodkas and a small kale smoothie, but found the legs on this body now refused to work. Could it be that Dr. Binky’s central nervous system was unable to tolerate a healthy diet? Dal Carrington Colby Dexter snorted with contempt and longed to toss her seven-foot mane of emerald hair. Unfortunately that now belonged to Dr. Binky, while she was confined in the body of a drunk weed.
Her body felt even stranger than she’d predicted it would. The previous evening she’d rushed to the helipad to see her beloved golden whirlybird landing then completely forgotten about stealing it when the muscular pilot stepped down. Since then every time Brutus looked at Dal Carrington Colby Dexter (in Dr. Binky’s body) this body’s appendage arose up in seconds…and signalled.
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter had never signaled with her sexual organs in her life, and she was finding having them on the outside, and utterly lacking in cunning, a definite hindrance to deception.
Moreover she was finding that Dr Binky’s substantial appendage was considerably stronger minded than Dr Binky himself.
And what was this witchcraft Brutus possessed? The moment she’d seen him step from the helicopter her eyes had been glued to his bulging biceps and needlessly tight pants.
He had swept Dal Carrington Colby Dexter into his arms and carried her (in Dr. Binky’s body) straight into the Hotel Avalon. Dal Carrington Colby Dexter (knowing a thing or two about this sort of procedure) immediately rolled onto her stomach. Would she really be forced to have man sex with this weird succubus person? Would Dr. Binky’s traitorous body cooperate, even past eleven double vodkas?
Brutus growled sexily, “Turn over baby. I want to look into your eyes.”
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter considered her options.
“Dr Binky demands to remain in the prone position, while engaging in man sex,” she declared.
“I…” Brutus sounded shocked. “Why are you talking about yourself in the third person?”
“Dr. Binky has no idea what you mean,” Dal Carrington Colby Dexter returned imperiously.
Brutus seized Binky’s body in his crushing manly grip and turned it round forcibly until Dal Carrington Colby Dexter had no option but to allow the brute to study her.
There was nothing for it but to attempt to mimic the minimal intelligence of ordinary people. But in the case of Dr. Binky she realized she would have to plumb new depths. She chose a setting of ‘too stupid to live’.
“So,” she simpered. “You’re looking into the limpid shallows of Dr. Binky’s eyes, What do you see?”
“My beautiful boyfriend. And… the sharp edge of…cunning. You’re not Binky,” he growled. Dal Carrington Colby Dexter froze.
Once again Brutus caught Dal Carrington Colby Dexter in his crushing, manly grip. “You must have swapped minds with him. I can smell the ant spray on you. Who are you?”
“Dr. Binky denies everything!” Dal Carrington Colby Dexter shouted.
Suddenly the hotel room door flew open.
A woman’s voice cried, “Brutus!”
Turning, Dal Carrington Colby Dexter saw…herself! Dear God! What had he done to Dal Carrington Colby Dexter’s turquoise tresses?! And why was he wearing that tacky sarong?
“How did you get here?” Dal Carrington Colby Dexter demanded.
“I disguised myself as a hula mannequin,” Dr. Binky said as he teetered further in to the room on eight-inch stilettos. “And smuggled my way in with the party decorations. Then I borrowed a golf cart.”
“Binky?” Brutus turned his burning glare on to Dal. “Put him back or I’ll kill you!”
“Kill Dal Carrington Colby Dexter and you kill Dr. Binky!” Dal Carrington Colby Dexter gave a harsh, cutting laugh.
“Dal Carrington Colby Dexter,’ Brutus returned narrow-eyed. “Thank you for identifying yourself.”
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter gasped, outraged. “That’s not fair!”
“There’s no need to kill anybody,” Dr. Binky said. “I know what you’ve been through Ms. Dexter. I read you diary.”
“You dared read Dal Carrington Colby Dexter’s private musings? You little creep! How did you get past the heart-shaped emerald lock?”
“Like your own heart, it was broken,” Binky paused meaningfully . Dal Carrington Colby Dexter would have believed Dr. Binky had lost his mind, if there had ever been one to lose. Binky rushed forward to Brutus, tripping on his 12-inch stilletos. “We need to help her, Brutus. That helicopter you’re supposed to be showing off to buyers belongs to her. We have to help her steal it.”
“You realize that this woman is a world-renowned super-villain, right babe?” Brutus asked. “Who attempted to take over the Lanyon Galactic Empire and had to be captured by butterfly net and shipped to a secure facility in Equatorial Guinea?”
“Yes! I mean…no, I didn’t but so what?” Dr. Binky lifted his chin defiantly and Dal Carrington Colby Dexter saw his seven yard long puce hair (her hair really) begin to work free of it’s bonds. Dal Carrington Colby Dexter longed to toss it. “Even if she’s in my body she still got an enormous boner looking at you, so she can’t be all bad.”
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter had never before experienced a level of stupidity so profound, yet, she was shocked to realize, her cold, dead heart had somehow been touched by one total idiot’s reasoning.
“So what about it,” Binky continued. “If we help you will you give me my body back?”
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter considered for a moment. “With pleasure,” she declared. “If only to get rid of this…appendage. And get my hair back.”
Nicole Kimberling and co-host Dal Maclean finish up talking about traditional narrative structure. Here’s the finale of the three-act plot.
“Peril on Cantina Island Part Three: The Climax & Denouement AKA: The Conclusion.”
During the conclusion all is resolved. Elements from the Premise and the Complication come into play to resolve the story’s conflict and lead to the denouement where everything is put right in preparation for the Conclusion.
We go back to Dr. Binky’s POV where he, still trapped in the body of Dal Carrington Colby Dexter, has resolved to help her reclaim her property so that she will reverse the mind swap:
Dr. Binky led the way down to where the stolen golf cart sat on the narrow street. Tourists and other guest at the tequila mixer had gathered round to admire it’s 24 carat gold plating and nitro booster.
“Ha!” Dal Carrington Colby Dexter cried. “This belongs to Roarke Rex Alamain Dexter.”
“That’s her ex-husband,” Binky explained to Brutus, shoving a lock of writhing vermillion hair away from his face. His scalp was waking up, which should be impossible unless… “Ms. Dexter, are you immune to Botox?”
“Botox has long been an integral part of Dal Carrington Colby Dexter’s unforgettable beauty” she replied loftily. “She may have developed a…. tiny immunity to it through gross and persistent overuse,” She slumped into the golf cart’s back seat. Two tiny, empty vodka bottles fell out of her—or rather his—pocket. “Botox is next to useless. To control Dal Carrington Colby Dexter’s magnificent, sentient, twelve feet long peacock-blue hair You will need to use superior mental control. In which case…matters do not look promising.”
Binky hopped into the golf cart driver’s seat while Brutus took shotgun. But the hair was getting out of control. It wrapped around the steering wheel and started trying to drive.
As he turned put the cart in drive he felt a strong arm clamp onto his shoulder.
“Not so fast.” A tall, tanned silver fox in an impeccably tailored suit stood next to him. “Don’t think you can fool me with this disguise…Pookie.”
“Roarke!” Dal Carrington Colby Dexter roared from the back seat.
“And you, Captain Brutus,” Roarke continued. “You can consider yourself dismissed.”
“With all due respect, sir, I think you’re the one who is about to be dismissed,” Brutus growled.
“What does that even mean?” Roarke asked.
“It means I’m having a bad hair day.” With that Binky thought with all his might. The hair wavered and shuddered then went straight for Roarke’s throat. While one length of it choked him, another rifled through his pockets picking out Roarke’s wallet keys and two condoms.
Roarke fell to his knees and Binky barely managed to wrestle the hair back into its scrunchy.
Roarke gasped and said, “I know you would find away to get on the island so I took the precaution of removing the tail rotor from your chopper once we arrived. You’ll never fly it off this island! Never!”
“We’ll just see about that,” Binky floored the golf cart and it surged ahead at a blistering six miles an hour.
They rode along the seawall until they reached the makeshift helipad that had been set up to display Dal Carrington Colby Dexter’s aircraft.
“Well,” Brutus said, as he surveyed the machine. “He really did take the tail rotor off. What an ass.”
“No, no, no!” Ms. Dexter wailed from the back seat. “Dal Carrington Colby Dexter will die before she sees anyone else’s hand wrapped around her jewel-encrusted cyclic-pitch lever.”
“Then we’ll blow it up!” Binky declared. “I saw some fireworks come in with the party decorations.”
“Hang on now babe, let’s not break out the explosives unless we really have to. Ms. Dexter if what you’re angry about is someone else owning this helicopter, do you have to steal it? Can’t we just push it into the ocean with this golf cart?” Brutus asked.
“I suppose we could tip it into the sea,” Dal Carrington Colby Dexter conceded. “It’s enough that if I can’t have it, no one will—a philosophy which has served me well on my relentless path to cosmic domination.”
“As you wish,” said Binky. He fired up the golf cart and rammed the golden, glinting, luminous vehicle off its platform. It tilted into the sea, sinking much more slowly than Binky would have imagined a vehicle that needlessly heavy to go under.
Binky tossed his wild, 20 foot long, rainbow-shaded mermaid hair and said, “And now I think you owe me something.”
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter narrowed her bleary, bloodshot eyes and slurred, “Very well. Give me my handbag.”
Dr. Binky nervously complied, not really knowing whether she would act in good faith or not. She was a super-villain after all. Even if she was called Pookie.
Dal Carrington Colby Dexter retrieved a solid platinum atomizer embedded with rubies in the shape of an ant. She cleared her throat and said, “Well-played, but pray we never meet again, Dr. Binky,” and spritzed him in the face.
The choking smell of ant spray engulfed him and the world went dark. When he awoke he lay on the sea wall Brutus knelt over him.
“Are you okay, babe?”
Just the sound of his precious boyfriend’s voice gave him a Grade A chubby. He was home—back in tune with his appendage!
Neither Dal Carrington Colby Dexter nor Roarke’s golf cart were anywhere to be found. Yes, they’d helped free a super-villain to do her worst to an unsuspecting world, but…they were together.
Binky sat up and realized that he still felt woozy, but not from the mind transfer. “I feel really drunk.”
“And vodka, I think. There’s a bunch of little bottles in my pocket.” He leaned into Brutus’s broad shoulder and together they walked toward the sea wall and peered down.
Ms. Dexter’s helicopter was just about to slip beneath the surface of Cantina Bay. As the glinting apparatus disappeared beneath the sunset waves, Binky placed his hand over his heart and intoned:
Full fathom five thy chopper lies;
All its blades are disarrayed;
Underwater it now flies
Nothing of it that doth fade,
But will suffer a sea-change
Caused by someone rich and deranged.