Wednesday, June 04, 2014


Act 3 is where the following should happen...

The final battle.

Where the protagonist and the antagonist have their climatic struggle, where they face off for one final time before the champion emerges victorious. It's worth noting here that the protagonist doesn't have to win all the time. Sometimes it can be far more interesting for the antagonist to win, or the protagonist to win only to find his life still changes for the worst. Don't ever be afraid to mix it up, to play with the audience's expectations, to give them something they'll talk about for ages after. This is what will make you stand out form all the other writers out there. And above all, whatever direction you decide to go, your ending should always satisfy.

Tying things up.

All your plot threads must be resolved by the end of the screenplay. There's nothing worse than walking out of the cinema and thinking, 'What happened to that tall guy after he popped out to buy some garlic bread during the final battle scene of the zombie apocalypse?' Tie up all those loose ends. Again they don't have to have a happy ending, they just need to be resolved. Your act 3 will look messy if you don't and will be very unsatisfying.

New world order.

I've read a lot of scripts that end just after the final battle between the protagonist and antagonist, especially with thrillers and action scripts. However, I like to add two or three scenes more to show the protagonist's new world, how he's changed and how that change has affected his immediate environment. How has the protagonist grown? What has he learnt? What has changed? What is his new world view? How do his friends/family/work colleagues react to the changes in him?

So there you go, three acts split into four easy sections. Remember though, there are no hard and fast rules about what you should do. You should always be flexible, adapt ideas to fit your own writing style and not be afraid to experiment with new ones. All the things I do when writing a screenplay have been honed from literally thousands of hours of discovering what works for me and what doesn't. I'm always eager to listen to other people's ideas, just in case there's something there that will better my writing.

Happy writing people.

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