The Giver

Inciting Event: At the graduation ceremony, Jonas is selected to be apprenticed as the next Receiver of Memory—the only position of its kind in the Communities. Even though he’s always experienced life differently from others (seeing color where they see only gray), this is the first moment when he encounters the main conflict. He is apprenticed to the former Receiver (now the Giver) and begins receiving full-color memories of the wondrous world that existed before the order-driven Communities were established.

First Plot Point: In many ways Jonas’s first gift of memory is where he leaves the Normal World, but this new revelation of himself and the world he lives in doesn’t solidify until he begins to see his own world in permanent color. The first color he sees is red—the red of an apple and the red in his friend Fiona’s hair. This is what prompts him to finally enter the adventure world of the Second Act where he begins questioning everything about the Communities and the rules they’re supposed to live by.

First Pinch Point: The Chief Elder confronts Jonas and his family and demands to know what the Giver has been teaching him. He lies to her and foregoes his emotion-damping medication for the first time. This isn’t a tremendously strong Pinch Point, and it doesn’t offer any particular interesting new clues about the conflict. But it is a turning point, as well as a scene that hints at the stakes and the antagonist’s power.

Midpoint: The Giver accidentally gives Jonas a painful memory of the Vietnam War, even though Jonas isn’t yet ready to receive it. Overwhelmed by the pain, he runs away from his training, determined to quit. But he then encounters Fiona, who promises him she’ll experiment with quitting her own medication, if he’ll go back.

This segment emphasizes the overall conflict of whether or not the people are better off without the memories. It’s also a crucial turning point, since it prompts Jonas to make the big decision to continue his training—because he wants Fiona to “feel” things.

Second Pinch Point: Jonas learns that Gabe—the baby his Nurturer father has been taking care of—is going to be “released”—or euthanized. This scene finally and fully emphasizes the darkness of the Communities—which terminates the old, the weak, and the rebels. Jonas watches as his kind father lethally injects a baby and then throws away the body, without even realizing what he’s really doing. This sets up and leads right into the Third Plot Point.

Third Plot Point: Jonas takes Gabe and leaves the Community, crossing the edge into the wilderness. Back in the Community, the Giver and Fiona are arrested. Although this is definitely an important turning point, it’s a pretty weak Third Plot Point. The “low moment” here is the Giver’s arrest, but Jonas has no knowledge of it, so it can have no affect on his character or his actions. As it stands, his escape with Gabe is actually a total victory.

Climax: Jonas reaches the spot where the map shows him the tower should be, but he can’t find it. Back in the Communities, Fiona is about to be executed/released. All the tension in this section comes from Fiona’s fate, which Jonas has no knowledge of. Jonas’s own journey with Gabe is relatively low-key and offers very little tension or doubt about the outcome.

Climactic Moment: Jonas crosses the boundary, releasing the memories, which flood back into the Communities. As a result, Fiona and the Giver are saved.

Resolution: Jonas and Gabe head toward a home, lit up with Christmas lights.

Notes: The main problem with this story is its anti-climactic ending. The problem starts with the victorious Third Plot Point and is exacerbated by the protagonist’s complete lack of awareness of all the traumatic events happening behind him. He struggles a bit with the weather during the journey, but not much. And the result is a weak finale.

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