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We are nearing the halfway point of your screenplay - and everything is looking good for your protagonist!

He’s well on his way to achieving his goal, succeeding in his quest. You’ve given him some ups and downs along the way. Some hard-fought victories, some soul-crushing defeats.

But, for now, everything’s going well in your protagonist’s life.

The mid-point of many second acts is a false-victory or defeat.

If you are planning on using one of those as one of your plot points, you should be planning for it now.

If you are coming up to a false-victory at your mid-point (where the protagonist appears to win - only to have the rug pulled right out from underneath them), then your ‘Everything Is Looking Good’ scene might actually be the lead-up to that scene. Or, it might be part of that scene itself.

If you are coming up to a false-defeat at your midpoint (where the protagonist appears to lose or be defeated, only to be given a second chance), then you want your ‘Everything Is Looking Good’ scene to be right before that, within a few scenes or sequences of the false-defeat.

In Jaws, this scene would be when the town holds a shark-hunting festival and the locals drag in a shark. The threat appears to be over. The beach-goers are safe. Everything is looking good.

Of course, that’s not going to last for very long!…

In Star Wars, this scene comes when they fly in the Millennium Falcon to Alderaan. At that point in the movie, the good guys have won. They’ve got the plans and all they need to do is deliver them to Alderaan. It’s over. They’ve won. Everything is looking good…

Then (at the mid-point) they arrive at Alderaan - and the entire planet’s been destroyed! And, worse yet, they get locked-onto with a tractor-beam and pulled into the Death Star.

In seconds, they go from the throes of victory to the agony of defeat (false-victory).

Writing Your Script’s Second Act: Everything’s Looking Great!

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Right Up Until It’s Not…

But, for now, everything’s going well in your protagonist’s life.

It’s time to enjoy the last little bit of happiness he’ll have until the denouement.

Savour it.

It won’t last long.

Always get in that habit. Whenever things are going well for your protagonist, whenever it looks like he might win - turn the tables on him! Snatch that victory away. Find a way to turn a seeming-victory into a sure-defeat.

Everything is Looking Up for Your Protagonist!

In The Martian, just before the false-victory is snatched away from our poor stranded astronaut, he’s managed to grow a field of potatoes right inside his habitat module. He’s got enough food to survive until he’s rescued! He’s won. He’s gone from certain-death → to near-certain-life.

Everything is looking great!

Until it’s not.

The hydrogen blows up and exposes his poor potatoes to the Martian atmosphere. Everything is dead. There’s no way to resuscitate it. It’s over.

It’s not a coincidence that the screenwriter chose to have him win right before the mid-point. Just like it’s no coincidence that his mid-point was a false-victory. Every script in Hollywood follows this template.

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