I have finally reached the end of Act Two, that long hinterland of plot development and adventures high and low.  For all its flaws it’s got me to this place – the beginning of Act Three.

And I have no idea what happens next.  And that’s OK.  Because during Act Two a strange and wonderful thing happened.  My characters started thinking and acting for themselves.  The framework of the treatment became just that, a point from which to leap into the unknown, still following the thread but winding through new paths in the city.   Let’s Get Lost.  And suddenly getting lost in the story doesn’t seem such a bad idea.

As a writer structure is your friend. You need it to lean on, to support you as you try and explore your ideas, to make a shape others will recognise and to help make sense of the emotional chaos of your world.  And structure, with its twist and turns, can be fun.  The spinning of a tale is half the pleasure, a spider’s web, a minor miracle.  Structure lends the journey a familiar form.  It gives comfort to the audience as they absorb difficult truths about themselves and the world they live in.

But not knowing is magical too.  Free writing, like free running, has a grace and honesty as it flies onto the screen.  Characters given free rein can go a little crazy, mess up and live their wildest dreams as they escape the limits of conscious thought and take you somewhere new.

To go in search is not to know the answer.  But to know you’re looking is a start.

Where are you in your writing this week?  What unexpected moments have you uncovered?  Leave a message below or find me @emlin32 on Twitter.


4 thoughts on “IN SEARCH OF ACT 3

  1. If you’re stuck, try this:

    I rarely know everything that’s going to happen in act three, but I do my best to come up with a powerful final image for the movie before I get started. Something thematic and related to the protagonist’s arc. Then, I just work toward that.

    And yeah, the unexpected moments can definitely be magical. I’m trying to execute some notes on a treatment (that’s past deadline…), and some of them have forced me to come up with ideas that are way cooler than what I had initially. Always a good feeling.

  2. Just out of curiousity, did you start and get thisnfar with freewriting? Or did you ever use an outline or plot framework? I only ask because I never seem to get very far wothout an outline or plan. I’d love to learn to run with where the character takes me but I’m scared of running into a stale storyline.

    • Thanks for reading! I did spend quite a long time writing a treatment which I have followed fairly closely up until now while writing the first draft script. I have also mapped out Act 3 as an outline but feel I need to go off map to really deepen the story. I also free write off the script to generate story/character information. I find writing monologues as the characters (for background use only not to use in the script) very helpful too.

  3. I am in love with The Prestige – if you don’t know it well, it has the best ever description of three act structure and is spoken by Michael Caine. He is descrribing the construction of a magic act – so already your work has to be special., showing something never seen before Mxx

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