There is a video game I like to play. Throughout the game, you are given choices to carry things with you, to tell the truth or not, to treat others with respect or treat them poorly, to learn new skills, to teach others, to save people with words or actions from injury or death. As my character makes these choices, I develop this character. My choices are saved in the game and have an impact later in the story. I have realized many aspects of this game are applicable when developing the mythic structure of your manuscript.
Too often I wish I could go back and make a different choice—but I can’t. If I want to win an epic battle in scene three, I better have learned to fight in scene one or two. (Since my character didn’t start out with that skill.) This is even a biblical principal. We often see verses written in the actionàresult format.
Studyà to show thyself approved. II Tim. 2:15.
Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done allà to stand. Ephesians 6:13
Sometimes action is implied. A missionary to a foreign land certainly is expected to know the language. An accountant should be good with numbers. To return to the game analogy, my character was mentored (in amazing game part 1) and the mentor (I was formerly the mentor) made choices to arm this character with survival skills. In game part 2, my character is able to use these skills. There are no contrivances to save the character. You literally might see a weapon, but the character can’t pick it up unless the correct choices were made in earlier play.
Manuscripts have to be like this. You as a writer are immersing a reader into your mythic world. Make it real. Also, as a writer, the choice "not to prepare your character" can be part of the plot.
Early in Fictional Manuscript Tess mentions to Max that she never learned to drive a stick shift, so later, when Max is injured and unconscious in a remote area where there is no cell phone reception and his manual transmission truck is the only means of transportation, Tess has a problem. Is it realistic that Tess suddenly knows how to shift gears? No. Is it realistic that she’ll grind gears all the way to find help? Sure. Will this choice make a difference in how quickly Max gets help? By all means. Could this add tension and suspense? Of course. We would immediately feel her angst. She regrets not having learned this driving skill. She is panicked because Max is out cold and bleeding. She’s worried she won’t get help in time. (If I really wanted to torture this poor character, I could make it a snake bite and give her a time limit.)
Remember writing is like a chess game. You really need to think in terms of future moves and like the pieces on a chess board know the limitations of your players.