The second act... t's always been the hardest for me. My story begins to lose clear direction and form during the 2nd Act. Who can relate to me? What advice do you have?
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Work on your treatments . That will stay you on course. Im old school, i use index cards with scenes and sequences. Helps me visualize where i am going; move scenes like a puzzle. Finally read scripts, lots and lots. Read 1000 scripts and u will learn structure and story telling.
Break it down into discrete sequences, each 15 pages, with a specific plot purpose. You can use Blake Snyder or someone else's model, but when you know what each section needs to do, it's easier.
The second act has always been the hardest one for me. To solve the problem I would create more problems for my main character.
Great advice from all of you! Thank you! Happy writing!
I have an ebook with a couple of hundred pages of advice on Act 2, but why not let a guy with a bunch of Oscars give his advice: "Act 1: You get your cat up a tree. Act 2: You throw rocks at him. Act 3: You get him down from the tree." Billy Wilder So Act 2 is the conflict act. Act 1 introduces the conflict, and act 2 is where the protagonist wrestles with the conflict and it keeps getting worse. So - what is your conflict? Now make a list of 10 scenes of physical action that show them wrestling with that conflict. Okay, now come up with a list of 10 scenes that deal with emotion & drama that show them wrestling with that conflict. Now pick the best scenes from those two lists. It's all about struggling with the conflict - not solving it yet (that's act 3). If the conflict can be resolved easily, you have the wrong conflict and the wrong story and ditch it now before you end up with 110 pages of crap. Think of Act 2 as struggling with the conflict and it becomes easier to figure out.
William, I just love Billy Wilder who said: "Never bore people." :) With that, and all the great advice already given within this thread, the second act is where the bulk of the entertainment you set up in first act happens. So have fun with it. Whatever you promised in your premise it pays off in the second act—it's the meat and potatoes of your story. The second act is where you show off your writing chops. Lol! :)
Billy Wilder told a story once about how he always put a pad and pencil by his bed at night so he could write down any great ideas that came to him in dreams. One night he remembered waking up all excited, having had what he thought was the best idea of his life. Half awake, he leaned over and quickly wrote down the idea on the pad. Upon waking he read what he had written: Boy gets girl Boy loses girl Boy gets girl At least there was a beginning, middle, and an end. :)
I know this is long overdue, but here's what I thought since I had to go back and re-watch the movie again tor refresh my mind. For writing 2nd Act (the middle of your story) easier, break it down into 3 or 4 Obstacles with each one centered on a goal. Example: please watch Inception's 2nd Act, which is broken down into 3 Parts/Sequences with each part centered on a goal. Part 1: Cobb needs to assemble a new team for Inception. Part 2: Dream Stage 1 City - the team tries to get the safe combination from Fischer. Part 3: Dream Stage 2 Snow - Fischer needs to break into Browning's mind (the fortress). ACT 2 turning point - Ariadne convinces Cobb to go save Fischer in limbo. The Ending/Resolution: Dream Stage 3 - limbo where Cobb needs to Fischer, confront Mal and save Saito.
Inception is a bad script to study for newbie writers. too complicated. only 1 guy in the world can write/make that movie - Nolan. easy script to study, "Ride Along", with Hart & Ice Cube.
FYI, William, that Billy Wilder saying, which I've always liked, actually dates from the 19th century: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/09/05/up-tree/
Wow! That's amazing!
THE STORY SOLUTION by Eric Edson teaches you how to break movies into sequences. It's a solid read from Will Smith's personal writer.
Better late than never... As others have said, outlining/treatment/cards really come in handiest for the second act. Here's how I look at it: Like 4 sequences of 8 or so scenes each. So about 32 scenes with about 16 being the midpoint of the film. Yes, you have all the cute terms like fun and games, lost souls or what have you, but by 1st taking a macro level of the story arc -- you can see that the 1st 8 scenes are your character just getting used to his footing on this journey, gathering his arsenal, friends, learning the rules etc, it's here they usually make a wrong-headed choice that gets them into trouble; that’s going to lead to the action of the second act. The stakes are established. Just as he thinks he's got it figured out in the next 8 the strategy leads to an emotional event and, we get to the midpoint -- where there is a major reversal (some say there needs to be a death -- either figuratively or literally) and then the next 16 is the reconstruction and acceleration, halfway here (24 ish of 32 ish) the major action they chose results in a misstep that will lead to the 2nd act turning point which starts with a new plan...
"The section of the script from the midpoint to the All is Lost* is the toughest part of the screenplay. It never fails to be the most challenging for me, and there's no method to get through it other than to just muscle your way." Save The Cat by Blake Snyder (*You can be flexible here. Other parts of your screenplay are hard to do too.) @William C. Martell Which title of yours deals with Act 2? I'd like to get it. Thanks.