Many crisis delegates are familiar with the pain of a crisis arc gone sideways or resistant chair, and I have fallen victim to the Crisis Director blaming many times. However, before getting frustrated with the dias, remember a few key steps that can set you up to recover from a crisis setback
Create More Contingencies During Prep
When writing out a note-by-note arc before a committee, it is recommended to include a contingency option for each note. Unless you have an abundance of prep time, these contingencies should not have entirely different goals from the original notes. Alternative notes may use the same arc/plan, which will reduce much of the stress of recovering. Often, these note switches can naturally bring the arc down a different path regardless, which is where a second arc comes in.
It would help if you considered creating an entirely similar second arc, where you achieve the same end goal of your preliminary plan with a different set of steps. This will force you to think flexibly during prep and have a second option when the chair is shutting down your first arc.
Create a Set of Fleshed Out Alternate Characters
Many of us include complex characters in our arcs designed to serve a specific purpose. For example, I love opening with a note to my secretary, dad, or long-lost cousin on the other side of a war. Often, without intending to use all of them during my arc, I will set out around ten potential side characters that might become applicable to my story if I need to create an alternate note.
If you’re more improvisational, consider finding important characters that present themselves in the front room or that speak to the chair’s interests. Often, with more exciting characters, your notes are less likely to fail. If an idea gets rejected, consider dropping the relevant character for the rest of the committee.
Joint Crisis Notes and Friendly Notes
This is the most consistent but challenging method of adjusting for a stubborn chair. If your chair is difficult, be friendly with your committee and create working connections or blocs of shared interests. With these connections, you can create Joint Crisis Notes that are much less likely to get rejected.
Many strong delegates get shut down because they are doing too well, and the chair wants to keep the committee even. In this case, there is no change to your notes that will launch your performance higher. However, you can ask other delegates to pass important notes to help you achieve your arc goals while the chair is stalling you.
This relies on having a clean reputation in committee and being friendly, so don’t set yourself up as a story antagonist while you’re being shut down.
How to Save an Important Note
If you submitted a critical note that got rejected by the chair and you’re not sure how to recover your arc, there are a few key ways to replicate it. Take your initial request to the chair and tweak it, so it is slightly more underwhelming, which will make it seem more passable by comparison. Then, add more emotion to your note, creating a different rationale for the same concept.
If it is clear your note will not get passed, consider a more flexible approach. Arc launching is an improvisational strategy involving front room updates to give a backroom directive. For example, if someone has just gained the throne, send a note to their cousin asking them to claim the throne instead. Notes which tie into the flow of the committee are more likely to pass and to fit in line with the plans of a stubborn chair.
Consider the Impact of Your Notes Beyond the Crisis
We often only quantify the success of our notes based on our impact on the storyline. However, many chairs have specific pre-planned committees or seek to create an even effect across delegates.
So, creating powerful, precise, and memorable notes will still instill a positive image in the chair’s mind even if you don’t maintain the momentum and impact of your arc all committee long.