I was talking to another writer the other day and he was lamenting the fact he had ground to a halt on his screenplay. I said 'Ah, page 60' and he laughed ironically. The page 60 blues. You get to the middle of the second act and realise it just isn't happening. You are lost. Frantically searching for the way to page 90, the third act and sanctuary.
Now maybe this is because you didn't outline your story, more likely it is because you did but fell in love with the premise and characters so much that you looked the other way when the 2nd Act gremlins were trying to attract your attention.
I've done it myself. I've got this great set up, I tell myself. That's a great act three finale. Act 2, meh I'll skill it when I get there. Ummmmmm, therein lies the road to heartache.
Absolutely no question, act 2 is the writer slayer. Act 1 is all about set up. Act 3 your resolution. Easy, like shelling peas. Act 2 is why you are writing screenplays and not knock knock jokes. It is the place where you make or break your bones as a writer.
So what do I do? I cheat. I don't have three acts I have four. I count my second act mid point as an act break.
So now I have .....
Act 1 - My engaging set up
Act 2 - The logical progression of the story indicated in the set up with interesting obstacles to that progression.
Act 3 - Reversal/major shift of any plans/fortune/chosen path as per set up - heading for........
Act 4 - Resolution
This way I cut the beast down to size. I don't see a sixty page second act stretching before me. I see bite sized chunks. Like anything else, your mileage may vary, but it works for me.
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4 years ago