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This tends to make 2nd acts rather boring. Film-makers are done with their big, fancy set-pieces after about the first five minutes. And, any remaining budget for spectacles (stunts, CGI, effects, gore, etc…) are usually earmarked for the climax. So, you end up with the biggest chunk of your film having the smallest budget.

It works the same way with screenwriting. Young screenwriters throw everything into the first act, so much so that they end up with very little left over for the other acts. All their best ideas, all their most interesting/exciting scenes end up really early in the script. And, whatever good material they have left, they tend to save it for the climax too.

As I’ve mentioned before, whenever someone has an idea for a screenplay, it’s almost never more than the first turning-point. That means that they’ve only ever thought about the first act. The second act was alien to them. They never got that far. They’ll only know the first act and the third. So, they’ll have absolutely nothing for half of their screenplay! They just won’t have thought about any of it. So, their second act will tend to be far shorter than it needs to be - and far more boring. Almost nothing will happen.

Don’t make this mistake!

Make sure your second act is filled with ups and downs (for your protagonist). Think of it like a roller-coaster. Whenever you go up - you must eventually come down. For every peak, there is a valley.

Roller-Coaster of Emotion!

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 first act is about grabbing the viewer’s attention, introducing your characters, and then filling the audience in on everything they need to know.

The third act is about wrapping everything up.

That means that the bulk of your ‘story’ is going to end up in the second act.

Think of your story like that. As a series of peaks and valleys. If something really good happens to your protagonist, make sure something really bad happens to take that victory away from him! If things have been going poorly, and everything is bleak - give him a ray of sunshine!

Up and down. Up and down. Up and down.

Make his quest come so close that it’s almost within his grasp - and then take it away from him. But, in such a way that it now seems virtually impossible to even contemplate victory from that point on.

Give him a victory. Let him taste the sweet, sweet taste - only to pull the rug right out from underneath him. Make your protagonist’s life miserable.

And, if you want bonus-points, make the reason he fails have something to do with his internal-conflict or character-arc!

Then, he can ultimately overcome that internal-flaw and become a better person - and, by doing so, claim victory once and for all at the climax.

Watch Deliverance and keep a close eye on how they are constantly building and relieving pressure on the main-characters.

Try and give your second act (actually your whole screenplay) a series of ups and downs, just like a roller-coaster!

When you buy your ticket and climb on-board the roller-coaster, do you want it to go straight the entire way? Or, do you want it to have lots of twists and turns?

It’s the same with your screenplay.

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