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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.

Remember…:

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

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: The False-Victory & 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:

Screenwriting 101:

PROPER SCREENPLAY FORMAT

SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE

SCREENPLAY TEMPLATE

SAMPLE SCREENPLAY PAGES

BEGINNER SCREENWRITERS

FILM SCHOOLS

SCREENWRITING DEGREES

SCREENPLAY STORY STRUCTURE

HOW LONG SHOULD EACH ACT BE?

THREE ACT STRUCTURE

START WRITING NOW

STORY-STRUCTURE TEMPLATE

THE FIRST TURNING POINT

THE SECOND TURNING POINT

PROTAGONIST’S CHARACTER-ARC

GET COVERAGE


FORWARD

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

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