Screenwriting : Act 2 by Rebecca D Robinson

Rebecca D Robinson

Act 2

Oh, agony agony, my second act really needs work. Was hoping to send it out but I'm just not ready. Big sigh.

Ellis Barrowman

I feel ya! I have one screenplay that needs A LOT of work, and I've been ignoring it, writing new things, but it needs to be completed. Blerg!

Rebecca D Robinson

Why is it always Act 2?!

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Rebecca - just wondering if you've outlined your story, before writing it?

Ellis Barrowman

Because that's the longest stretch. It's the easiest place to get muddled, bogged down with scenes and dialogue that have nothing to do with the plot. Do you have an outline process?

Rebecca D Robinson

I’m writing about my ancestor from 950 years ago, so the history has been my guide. I’ve filled in the blanks but forgot some very important screenwriting principles when I was doing so. Now I’m going to have to tear it all out and start again.

Bill Costantini

Hi Rebecca,

That's common for writers at certain skill levels, so at least you're not alone.

You really should watch a few of your favorite films, and literally sit there with a note pad and number and describe the beats/what significant things happen in "the middle." You will see how those films take the viewer on a journey that has some unexpected bumps in the road, and you will possibly also see how two or more story lines intertwine and join up at the end. The road is never a straight line, and the audience really shouldn't be able to predict what happens next. You may also see how the main characters evolve/are forced to evolve, how theme/s are explored, and how protagonists come into a story with some faults that need to transform a bit in order for them to reach their goals.

I know you don't write romantic-comedies, but the great writer Nora Ephron once said, on writing and characters - "Sometimes to get to your destiny, you have to go through many false destinies." That may or may not pertain to your characters in your stories, but the themes, struggles, obstacles, battles, unexpected bumps, false hopes, realizations, and changes of "the middle" are what make that ending even more satisfying.

I am certainly not trying to lay down any "rules", but most great pieces of drama have those types of story line elements throughout. That might help you a bit in crafting your next "Act 2." I personally craft my stories as a series of sequences - usually 7 to 11 main sequences - and not in an "Act 1/Act 2/Act 3" way. That might just be a semantical difference, though, in the way we refer to the parts of story.

I hope that helps a bit. Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Rebecca, and stay safe!

Rebecca D Robinson

Thank you for the comments, Bill. I know these tips intuitively, but it really helps to have them written out. I am grateful.

Bill Costantini

H Rebecca,

No problem. I have to constantly question and re-affirm to myself regarding the purpose/intent of everything that I write, and I've been writing a lot of creative and non-creative stuff nearly everyday of my life for the past 40 years. "What is the purpose?" I have probably asked myself that question a few million times by now.

Sometimes I wish I could wing it. Maybe in my next life I'll come back as a bird. Heh=-heh.

Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Rebecca, and stay safe!

Rebecca D Robinson

Thank you and you, too!

Rosalind Winton

Hi Rebecca, my screenplay is based on the true story of my Great Grandparents. I've been working on it for two years now and it's still not right. It's too episodic and I'm finding it very difficult to develop the characters so that they are driving the story along, rather than the story is just happening to them, It's really difficult, but I'm determined to get there eventually. , .

John Ellis

That's why a thorough outline and/or scene beat sheet needs to be done before you write FADE IN - so you know exactly where the story is going at every stage of the plot.

Jason Mirch

Hey Rebecca D Robinson! A while back I taught a webinar on how to crack your second act. Have you watched that at all?

I suspect you are dealing with a lot of issues that many writers struggle with.

You can check it out here:

I hope that is helpful!

Rebecca D Robinson

Thank you! I’ll take a look

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