Today we have a special treat, a guest post from award winning script writer and founder of WeFixYourScript.com, Geoffrey Calhoun. His advice applies to all writers milling about in the middle of their stories.
Finishing Your Script by Defeating Act Two
We’ve all been there. Stuck. Not sure where to go. Our lead characters milling about as they are lost in act two. Suffering in their own purgatory, begging us to usher them to act three. Do we cheat and jump a few sharks or dig some plot holes to get them there? NO! We will not allow that. We know better (cue rousing war speech soundtrack). We shall not stoop to that level. We shall not let our script be damned by desperation and deadlines. We shall not save the cat…because WE ARE SPARTA! (sorry, got a little excited) WE ARE SCREENWRITERS!!!
Then what do we do? Give up? Hell no! We get creative, and use a few tricks. Let’s get started. Everyone gets stuck. It’s normal. If you are a writer and don’t get stuck during your work then I’m going to pray for you. Because one, you’re not human (possibly a robot overlord) and two, your work is probably overly outlined which can result in a work that lacks a special spark.
Getting stuck is the worst, most annoying, terrible, frustrating, anxiety inducing, best, amazing, and euphoric thing that can happen to a writer. Many writers do extensive outlines to avoid getting stuck. This does work, but can end up giving you a story that is stale and lacks a certain creativity to it. We are not those people. We write from the heart. We pour ourselves onto the page. I’m a firm believer in writing a mini-outline, which is no more than 15 lines and minimally filled out. Then I begin my script and practically throw the outline away (I ignore it). I have a general idea of where I want to go and I let myself get there by allowing my inner creative spark to flourish. Inevitably it creates something amazing and beautiful. But eventually you can get stuck. Which happens around act two. That’s where everyone gets stuck btw. Writing through act two and not giving up is what separates a Youngling from a Jedi (I went there).
So, we’re stuck in act two. No biggie. Time for some free-form thought. I mind map. It’s fun. You put an idea (plot) into a bubble then branch out from those ideas which in turn have branches from those ideas and soon you’ve filled a page in twenty minutes with some pretty killer stuff. See the great thing about this is that my mini-outline gives me a general idea of where I need to go. Having that thought in my head while I mind map gives me direction. This approach forces you to creatively go to different places than you expected it. Which brings out that inner spark and makes your script more original and less predictable. So basically better.
Now that we’ve learned a nice trick on how to get out of a creative slump, let’s discuss a mysterious and ancient technique that we are already using. Many writers don’t realize what this technique is really used for. Are you ready…wait for it…SUBPLOTS. Yep. The big mystery is solved. You’re already using these. I’m not just talking about your B-plot which has tragically been downgraded to love stories (it’s actually the heartbeat of your script) but actual subplots. These are the added meat that get you through act two. Which is why they come in late act one and are resolved in early act three. Use your subplots with your supporting character. It does double duty this way. The supporting character gets developed more and we beef up our act two. You can even use a subplot that focuses on your antagonist as well. Oh man! Now we’ve got our main plot/the B-plot/a subplot with our supporting character/ and another subplot with our antagonist. 4 plots! Holy crap! We are going to be chewing through the pages of act two!
Now do your mini-outline, bust out some mind maps, throw in some killer subplots, and get out there.
Act two is the death star (oh no he’s going full star wars mode) you are Luke as he barrels down that narrow trench, your nav computer is your outline that you have to let go of, your mind map is the force…fire away. BOOM!
“Great shot kid, now don’t get cocky”
-Geoffrey D. Calhoun
Geoffrey is listed as a top 100 indie-writer in the world. He is a multi award winning and produced writer that is the founder or wefixyourscript.com.
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