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roughly the mid-point of your overall script as well). At the mid-point you typically find either a false-victory or a false-defeat.

A false-victory is when the protagonist appears to have won (he appears to have succeeded in whatever his goal or quest was) - only to have him find out that it wasn’t really a victory at all. In fact, the goal or quest is now even further away than ever.

A false-defeat is the opposite. It’s when your protagonist appears to have lost for good - only to find out that it wasn’t really a loss after all.

A false-victory or a false-defeat gives your protagonist a moment to reflect on the (changing) status quo.

The second act is so long that it’s helpful to break it in two and think of it as being two equal parts, separated by what we like to call the mid-point.

The mid-point, as it sounds, would typically come roughly half-way through your second act (and, seeing as the first and third acts are of roughly similar size, this means that it should be

Remember…:

The mid-point of the original Star Wars (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) is a false-defeat.

Our heroes come out of warp - and, uh oh, Alderaan is gone! It’s been destroyed! Their mission has failed!

But, worse yet... They are being pulled into the Death Star.

Their quest is over, everyone’s dead (or, at least, they will be soon), it’s over, done. Stick a fork in it!

But, wait!…

It’s not really a defeat at all!

Before you even start writing your screenplay, make sure you know your story-structure backwards and forwards.

You should know what your mid-point is going to be, before you even start writing scene #1, even though that scene doesn’t come until half a script later.

You should know whether your mid-point’s going to be a false-victory or a false-defeat. If it’s a false-victory, you might want to have a false-defeat at your second turning-point (and vice-versa). You should know all your turning-points, your character-arc, your themes and sub-plots, etc…

Do you want your audience to be happy until you pull the rug right out from underneath them?

Then, go for a false-victory.

Do you want your audience to be excited and then horrified?

Then, go for a false-defeat (which tends to be a lot darker and have more of an emotional-impact than a false-victory).

False-victory at the mid-point → false-defeat at the 2nd turning-pointactual victory at the climax

Or…

False-defeat at the mid-point → false-victory at the 2nd turning-point → actual victory at the climax

False-Defeat: Writing Your Mid-Point: FORWARD The Second Act - The False-Victory (or, alternately, the False-Defeat)!

In Breaking Away, you have the opposite, a false-victory.

The only thing Dave’s ever dreamed of - is to race against the Italians. He’s even convinced himself that he is in fact Italian, not a poor Mid-Westerner. All he cares about is proving that he can compete with them.

He finally gets his chance to race against the professionals at the movie’s midpoint - and, not only compete, but he’s every bit as good as they are! In fact, he might even be better. Better than the best cyclists on the planet.

He’s won. He’s finally got everything he’s ever wanted. He’s achieved victory…

Until they cheat and leave him with nothing but a broken heart, of course.

False-Victory:

Screen-Writing Contests:

Screenwriting 101:

The mid-point is basically your main-character’s point of no return. It’s really the last chance they have to turn back.

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The First Act of your Three-Act Structure. This is where you introduce your main characters to the audience and get the plot rolling. The end of your 1st Act comes with the First Turning Point, the point at which your protagonist chooses his quest The 2nd Act - Where the bulk of your plot goes. Confrontation - this is where your protagonist confronts the status quo and attempts to change it for the better Your 2nd Act can't end without your Second Turning Point! Things may seem bleak for your protagonist, but all is not lost yet! There is still hope!... Backstory - what happened in the past. Exposition, expository dialogue, etc... It all comes down to this - your climax! The end of your story. The conclusion. The one thing everyone in the audience wants to know: does the protagonist win? The 3rd Act - the final act in your three-act structure, where everything is decided, the climax, the conclusion, the end. Your Film's Theme - what your movie is really about. The undercurrent. The second act of your screenplay should be filled with ups and downs, dramatically speaking of course. Like a roller-coaster. It's all about creating conflict and drama. BACK Welcome to SCREENPLAY.today - your free online screen-writing program - learn how to write a screenplay for free! Free Online Screenplay Writing Course from SCREENPLAY.today - screenwriting advice, help, information, hints, tips & tricks