Yes, Act Zero.
The Act before Act One. The Act with all that groovy backstory that you’ll only squeeze in through flashbacks, dreams and exposition.
This is the equivalent of the scrolling words at the beginning of all the Star Wars movies.
A NEW HOPE
It is a period of civil war.
Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy….
We NEVER find out the details of this “fist victory against the Galactic Empire” in any of the six movies. In the later writings it is explained, but not in the films. We just need to know it happened. Like the Clone Wars. Luke’s father and Ben Kenobi fought together in them, but for about 20 years no one knew what the hell the Clone Wars was about. Personally, that bugged the Hell out of me, knowing there was a massive something that happened before.
Likewise in “The Hobbit” and “Harry Potter” we don’t, at first, know anything about the One Ring or the Cloak of Invisibility, but they are critical to both stories. We eventually find out about where these things came from, but there is no immediate explanation.
This can bog you down, this Act Zero that no-one ever sees. Make sure it sings just as sweetly as the rest of your narrative.
This is the reason for my low output for the month of January, as reflected in the chart below.
Some days I did well, others were only moving paragraphs and entering connections, and sometimes I did nothing. There are a lot of distractions to deal with, one of them (for me anyway) was the holes in my backstory.
Why are they here? Got it. Family tree? Check. Fluidity of pot (“as a result they…” as opposed to “and then they…”)? Handled. What did they do yesterday or last week that got us to the underlying conflict complicated in Act One and totally blown out of proportion in Act Three?
Yeah, that’s where it got me. Act 3 (of five).
In Star Wars IV, we see Greedo corner Han Solo in the cantina on Tatooine. Bounty hunters have been looking for Han because he dumped Jabba the Hutt’s cargo when he was boarded by the Empire.
We see none of this, because it’s Act Zero, but it sets a major plot point for the next two films (the carbonite thing).
This represents about 15,000 words. Writing fiction is a lot different than the kind of writing I’m used to, and it shows.
Be safe and be well