A tragic crisis is when right before a hero triumphs, right before a suitor sways a love interest, a detective discovers a significant clue of a crime, or a final solution is set in motion, and so on, a tragic but credible and related complication arises.
Today, I took my demolition derby refugee car to the scrap yard. At any time from when I decided to go until I arrived back home a tragic crisis could have occurred. The car might not have started. It might have broken down on the way, run out of gas, overheated, the brakes might have locked up, a tire might have gone flat. A wreck might have happened along the way. The scrap dealer might have reneged on our telephonic handshake agreement. I could have been stuck at the scrap yard hitchiking until after dark. It's freezing cold out there so I planned on being on the road during the warmest part of the day. Twenty minutes driving there and forty minutes hitchiking home. No tragic crisis, an adventure but not much of a story. I got what I wanted from the scrap dealer without any undue hassle. It was about what the car was worth, in fact, about what the insurance company sold it back to me for after the rear-ender that total lossed the car in the first place, but I drove for another five years and thousands of miles. I managed to pay my rent before the penalty fee deadline too. And now I'm driving a much less worrisome car.
A knight is about to slay the dragon holding a damsel for dinner. But the dragon has one more defense in his bag of tricks. The dragon utters a word of power known to the knight as belonging only to the greatest of dragons. And here all along the knight thought he was battling a lesser dragon within the knight's abilities to fight on honorable, chivalrous terms. The word of power shakes the knight's confidence. All seems lost. A tragic crisis. The falling action then is the knight fighting despair and a loosing battle. The final crisis might then be the knight's noble sacrifice intending at least the damsel in distress to get away. The knight's noble sacrifice exposes the dragon's hidden fatal weakness. Denouement. The knight's knowledge of the word of power and the dragon's fatal weakness would need to be prepositioned or foreshadowed early on though.
In one sense of a dramatic structure, a completed, fully realized narrative has five acts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement acts. An inciting crisis is fully developed by the end of the exposition act. Exposition in the sense of an outset or setup or introductory act beginning. The rising action act is proactive efforts to accomplish a goal, purpose, desire, etc., related to the main complication introduced in the exposition act. The climax act has its five characteristics as I noted in my first response to this topic thread. A tragic crisis follows and is connected to but not necessarily bound to the climax act, where the goal, etc., seems about to be achieved, but here comes a major tragic reversal. The falling action act is proactive efforts to avert total disaster. And a final crisis resulting from the falling action leads into the denouement act. Five acts, three crises. Major discoveries and recognitions and decisions precede and result from the crises.
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