New in Town

Inciting Event: Miami businesswoman Lucy arrives in New Olm, Minnesota, in the middle of winter, where she’s been sent to oversee the downsizing and mechanization of a food factory. This her first encounter with the main conflict: being a fish out of water in a new place. Right on the heels of her arrival, she meets Ted of the romantic subplot, with whom she immediately gets off on the wrong foot.

Although she is invested in the main conflict and can hardly escape it at this point, she is still in a state of mental rejection, as she struggles to understand, much less like, anything she sees. In like measure, she immediately rejects the Call to Adventure in regard to any possible romance with beer-drinking, truck-driving Ted.

First Plot Point: Lucy goes to work at the factory for the first time—where she is even more obviously a fish out of water. The plant manager Stu does everything he can to make her feel unwanted. She also discovers that Ted is actually the local union representative, with whom she will have to play nice.

This isn’t an overly strong First Plot Point. The more obvious departure from the Normal World happened at the Inciting Event, making this turning point lackluster in comparison.

First Pinch Point: After Stu fools her into giving the workers “Gopher Day” off, Lucy fires him—against Ted’s friendly recommendation. She then crashes her car in a snow bank on her way home to Miami for Thanksgiving. Ted eventually rescues her.

In many ways, the antagonist in this story is Minnesota (and specifically the Minnesotan winter) itself. Here, Lucy is brought face to face with its power. In firing Stu, she also makes matters worse for herself at work by further alienating the workers, who refuse to run the machines. But Ted’s rescue does provide a turning point that begins to soften her opinion of him—and, by extension, all of New Olm.

Midpoint: The Midpoint is very subtle here. We find a great example of what James Scott Bell calls the “mirror moment,” when Lucy receives the gift of a scrapbook from her secretary Blanche. In it, she finds a picture of herself “looking as if she has the weight of the world on her shoulders.” She literally stares at herself—as if looking in a mirror—and experiences a subtle shift in paradigms. Afterwards, she makes her first move to join in with the community when she joins Blanche and Ted for Christmas caroling.

Second Pinch Point: When Ted takes Lucy crow shooting with Stu—in an attempt to patch things up between them—Lucy accidentally shoots Ted in the butt. This isn’t a super strong pinch, since it doesn’t do much to turn the plot.

Third Plot Point: Lucy flies back to Miami where she learns that the company is planning to shut down her plant and put all her workers (whom she’s now grown to care about) out of work. She returns home to discover that Blanche has found her list of “terminations”—on which she had written Blanche’s name on her first day at work. She’s facing the loss of everything she’s learned to care about: New Olm itself, her work on the factory, her new friends, and even Ted.

Climax: After rallying the factory to raise profits by selling Blanche’s secret tapioca recipe, Lucy saves the factory—only to be given a promotion to vice president back in Miami. Although the previous segment, with everyone coming together to save the factory, has more of a climactic feel, this segment is where Blanche has to face down her true final conflict: Is the job promotion she’s always wanted more important to her than the friends and romance she’s found back in New Olm?

Climactic Moment: Lucy returns to New Olm and informs the workers she’s turned down the promotion and has worked out a deal that will allow them to buy the factory for themselves.

Resolution: Lucy and Ted kiss.

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