So as I was going through my inbox looking for interesting questions that I've neglected over the last few months, I came across this email. For whatever reason, I've got a bit of a mental block on this question because any time I've tried to answer it, my brain just goes blank. I really hate that I've left this guy on the hook for a while, so I've decided that I'm just going to crowdsource the answer.
This is from Glenn:
I have a question for you regarding the introduction of the protagonist's inner conflict. It has been brought to my attention that my current comedy script needs to have it flushed out better and introduced sooner in the story.
Is there a standard how early inner conflict should be revealed in a story such as the first act? The protagonist in my current script wrestles with choosing what is more important in his life; material wealth and status in his town verses placing a greater importance on the well-being of his family members. I'm trying to avoid wedging inner conflict into this story before the reader/audience would understand why this conflict is an issue in his world.
I believe I've watched good movies that didn't bring out inner conflict until the second half of a story. Conversely, some movies feel they have to smack you over the head several times to make sure everyone knows what it is.
Any information you can share with me will be greatly appreciated.
So what say you? My gut reaction is that it's helpful to reveal inner conflict early on (just as one example, Marty's lack of self-confidence, as revealed within the first fifteen minutes of Back to the Future), but it's not essential.
I think in most cases you're going to see that inner conflict established well before the turning point into Act Two, but can anyone come up with exceptions along the lines of what Glenn is asking for?