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2024 – Mar 5 – Tic-Tac


Newsletter “3 in 1” by Albán Brothers

"Tell powerful and commercially successful  stories with practical insights."


March 5, 2024

Writing Concept

  • What is it about?

When it comes to writing a story, there's a powerful component that we like to call "Tic-Tac," which is proposing an opposition directly related to the main character or hero's motive. 

The aim is to create a character, entity, object, or organization that is against the main character getting what they want so badly.

  • What is it for? 

This exercise is designed to lead any writer to enhance their ability to create solutions and develop captivating stories.

Creating an environment of danger and opposition against the hero's personal agenda helps refine the narrative structure and makes it easier for the audience to reap rewards, whether for the villain or the hero.

Exercise & Practical Example

Imagine your main character, Edmond, entering the house of his best friend, Danglars, and with a trembling voice, he says that he has been pursued by the guards for a crime he didn't commit. Furthermore, the woman he loves, Mercedes, is waiting for him on a boat to disappear together, but if he doesn't arrive on time, he will lose her forever along with his freedom.

So far, we have a protagonist (Edmond) who wants something (Mercedes), and he must overcome an obstacle (the guards). A premise like any other.

Now, imagine that Edmond's best friend, Danglars, draws his sword, revealing that he is the one who accused Edmond to the guards because he loves Mercedes and cannot let Edmond have her. He gives him two options: to wait together for the guards to arrive and take Edmond away, or to face him on a one-on-one combat knowing that Danglars is a better swordsman and Edmond is unarmed. To wait or die.

With the previous scenario, do the following:

  1. Set a timer for 15 minutes to think of a third option that could free Edmund from this situation.

  2. Once you have the third option: Set a timer for 30 minutes to write the scene.

  3. Finally, take 10 minutes for grammar and style.

NOTE: You can do the exercise with a created scene that meets the same elements and rules.

Here's an example of the exercise done by us:

Second Chances by Albán Brothers, feb 2024

The gray hairs at his temples betrayed the more than 40 years Samuel had lived. His rough hands and gruff demeanor blamed him for growing up in a middle-class family, while he nostalgically gazed out the train window. He hadn't realized he'd been rubbing his fingers against his knees on the old, worn fabric of his patched pants for the last 25 minutes.

⎯ Thank you for coming with me. ⎯ Samuel said, his eyes fixed on the cold window.

Sitting beside him was Jorge, about half a decade younger. His long, neat overcoat indicated a few classes above his friend and companion. He had unconsciously crossed his legs away from Samuel, while his upturned nose wrinkled disdainfully at Samuel's barely noticeable odor.

The train begins to slow down. They finally reached the station.

⎯ Let's go. ⎯ Samuel ordered urgently. ⎯We must get there before Hortensia boards the plane.

Samuel gets up to open the door, but Jorge stands up at the same time and positions himself between his friend and the door.

⎯ What are you doing? ⎯ Samuel says, struggling to understand.

⎯ I can't let you get off the train. ⎯ Jorge indicates. ⎯ I'm sorry.

⎯ Now's not the time. ⎯ Samuel sighs through clenched teeth as he reaches out to push his friend aside and open the door. ⎯ I can't afford to lose her. Not this time. ⎯ But he stops dead in his tracks when he hears a strange click.

Jorge draws a pistol from his briefcase under his coat and points it at Samuel's belly. He takes a step back, slightly startled.

⎯ Sit down ⎯ he commands. ⎯ Do it. ⎯ Samuel complies, slowly. ⎯ You'll let the doors close ⎯ Jorge continues. ⎯ The train will leave the station, and Hortensia will forget about you. Hopefully, you will too. ⎯ Samuel, feeling a strange warmth in his belly and the hairs on his neck stand on end, glances at the window, not to find a way out of the predicament, but out of an even greater fear. Losing Hortensia. The guard was finishing helping passengers off the train. ⎯ Please, Samuel. Don't make a scene.

⎯ Why? ⎯ Samuel muttered under his breath.

⎯ I love Hortensia.

How was it possible? And right at this moment? Samuel had only two options. To try to push aside Jorge, who held a deadly weapon against him, or to wait for the doors to close, giving himself the luxury of losing the love of his life forever. There was no way out, and he wouldn't know how this struggle would end once the train station moved away and they were finally alone. Would Jorge be capable of shooting him? Perhaps he was just trying to scare him? just to keep him from seeing Hortensia.

⎯ How is it possible that a low-class idiot like you ended up with someone like Hortensia? ⎯ Jorge asked contemptuously. It was a question he had been asking himself for a long time, but he didn't realize he had said it out loud. ⎯ A woman like Hortensia. What do you have that I don't?

⎯ Do you think I haven't asked myself the same question? ⎯ Samuel responded. ⎯ Hundred times before.

⎯ Shut up. No one asked for your opinion.

The guard's whistle echoed throughout the train, announcing that the doors were about to close, taking Samuel away once and for all from Hortensia, the love of his childhood.

⎯ Justice. ⎯ Declared Jorge, gazing down the empty aisle through the train window. ⎯ Justice, at last. ⎯ A sinister grin crept across Jorge's lips, already dry from the long train journey.

But as he looked out the window with satisfaction and a hint of pleasure, he didn't notice Samuel, who didn't wait a second longer to raise his foot and forcefully kick Jorge's knee backward, shattering it into 2 or 3 pieces. The piercing pain forced Jorge to let out a muffled howl, only to be followed by the subsequent punch that Samuel successfully threw at his face, costing him at least two teeth.

⎯ I forgive you, Jorge. ⎯ Samuel said, opening the door of the slowly moving train. ⎯ I hope you can do the same.

Movie Recommendation.

  • "Prisoners" 2013: The film follows the abduction of two young girls in Pennsylvania and the subsequent search for the perpetrator by the police. After police arrest a young suspect and release him, the father of one of the daughters takes matters into his own hands.

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Until next week,

Albán Brothers

Authors of ORDER.

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Newsletter "3 in 1"

"Tell powerful and commercially successful stories with practical insights."


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