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Screenwriting : Today's Wish and Creative Tip by Laurie Ashbourne

Laurie Ashbourne

Today's Wish and Creative Tip

When Stuck in the Middle, Kill Something In previous tips, I’ve talked about first pages and how to get from Act one into Act two and how to end – so today we look at the camel’s hump. Somewhere along the line, I was led to believe that the midpoint is where someone dear to the main character must die. Thankfully, I didn’t take that as a hard and fast rule, but the fact of the matter is, the midpoint IS where the old way of the main character must shift – or die. The 1st act turning point is often touted as the point of no return, and in many ways it is, but really the turning point of the middle is when the character steps into the meat of their role – in the 25% of the film from act one to the midpoint they are still feeling their way around and getting used to the new world. The midpoint is where they take ownership of the new world so it often reflects the ‘death’ of the way things were, in whatever way that is best represented -- either in someone’s or something’s physical death, or a symbolic death of how things were. Let’s look at a variety of MIDPOINT examples that are undeniably good films. THE GODFATHER: Michael shoots the cop and flees to Italy. Michael has taken ownership of his role in the family THE TITANIC hits the iceberg You get it WHEN HARRY MET SALLY: they finally sleep together – their previous relationship has died. CITIZEN KANE – He meets Susan and the affair that kills his marriage begins LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE - Grandpa dies. This would seem to end the trip to California. Then Richard decides to steal the body and continue the journey. THE LION KING –After years of escaping his pain by living a “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle with Timon and Pumbaa, Simba is still haunted by his past. Rafiki divines that Simba is alive, finds him, then leads him to a reflecting pool to show him that his father Mufasa “lives in” him. May you find the strength within to embrace the change that will change everything.

Boomer Murrhee

As always, your tips are illuminating and give much food for thought. Thank you for taking your time to share. I'm about at the midpoint of the initial draft of my current project, so the timing is great. Now to get back to it. ;-)

Laurie Ashbourne

Glad to help, Boomer!

Shari D. Frost

Thanks so much, Laurie, this is great! I love your examples. Dara Marks' has similar thoughts on the midpoint, and an image I find really helpful. She talks about how in the first half of act 2, or up to the midpoint, the hero is his/her 'old self in the new world'. I find this image really helpful for keeping the conflict rising (particularly as opposed to some other structure models like STC's 'fun and games'.) The midpoint is the moment where the hero finally gets it, gets who he/she needs to be. So in the second half of act 2, the hero is his/her 'new self in the new world', but it's too little too late.

Dan MaxXx

or listen to the advice from a LA Agent : extend a sex scene or car chase

Laurie Ashbourne

Thanks, Shari! Dara is great, so few know of her. Dan! (>_<) (o_O) that's my face contorting in anguish...

Mark Robyn

Kill something..that doesn't really work if you're writing a family movie or a romantic comedy, now does it? You could change it to say, 'spill something?' Or maybe 'hit someone with a pie'. ?

Laurie Ashbourne

No it doesn't, Mark. But when you look at WHEN HARRY MET SALLY or THE LION KING. It doesn't have to be a physical death, just the end of an existence of something. Then again, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE was a comedy and Grandpa keeled over...

Bill Costantini

At the midpoint of Taken, Bryan delivers a double chop to the trachea of a bad guy, and renders his respiratory system obsolete (ouch.) Then he meets his former associate, Jean-Claude. Jean-Claude is now a "desk guy" who questions Bryan's methods ("why didn't you go to the police?"). He then says "you can't go around tearing down Paris." Bryan says "Jean-Claude...I will tear down the Eiffel Tower if I have to." Jean-Claude says "Don't forget who you are talking to." Bryan says "I thought I was talking to a friend." Not only does a bad guy get killed, but it appears that Bryan's friendship with Jean-Claude is now dead, too, which comes to completion later in the film. Bryan Mills for Father of the Year!

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