Monday, September 24, 2012


The following is taken from a lecture by Elana Johnson, who in turn used information from Blake Snyder's Save the Cat.

Okay, let's get on to...

ACT 2 -
This Act will include the next 6 Beats (7-13).

It is in Act 2 where the transformation of the main character really takes place. We will take our lump of "clay" from Act 1 and start to beat it down and soften it up so that it can be formed into what we want it to eventually become by the end of the story. We will watch the main character enter this Act one way, but by the end of it, he will leave the Act forever changed.

BEAT 7 - "B" STORY    (p. 90)

This is where we get into the "B" Story, or the subplot that runs along side our overall plot line. Generally this is the "love story" part of your book. It doesn't have to be romantic love, however. For example, in the movie Despicable Me this is the part where Gru starts to fall in love with the little girls.

This part of the story is also where we find the theme of the story being developed.

During the "B" story, we generally also take a break from much of the more action-packed "A" story where all the debating and action have been taking place.

Upside Down World of Act 1
Act 2 is also where we introduce some new characters. They will be the contrast to the world the main character knew in the first Act. Think of this as the upside down version of his first world.

  BEAT 8 - FUN AND GAMES  (pp. 90-165)
This is where we really break out in the story. We deliver on what was promised from the premise of the story. If you were looking at a movie poster and saw all this great action, this is where it takes place in the story.

We don't worry about the advancement of the story itself so much as having some fun in discovery. This might even be why we started reading the story in the first place is for this part of it.

For example, this is the part of the story - or movie - where Spiderman begins to really experiment with his new found powers. This is where your character develops his inner/outer abilities and we enjoy his new-found power.

BEAT 9 - MID POINT (p. 165)
At this point of the story the main character is going have some sort of peak. He is going to be at the top of his game, or, he's going to fall to some sort of low where it seems that his world is falling apart around him. In either case, Up or Down, it will be a false high or low. As the author you will need to decide which direction will help your main character drive toward his eventual goal.

In the case of an "UP" this is where the main character seems to be getting everything he wants. There may be a party at the midpoint. He is receiving love and acceptance and it looks good. In the case of the movie Ironman it is the party scene where he almost kisses Pepper.

Here we see the hero seem to lose everything he was after. He could be completely disappointed or embarrassed or put in his place by an opponent. In the movie Legally Blonde, Elle Woods appears at a part dressed up like a ridiculous looking bunny. She is the only one dressed this way and feels like an idiot.


During this Midpoint, the main character is trying to discover if he really is what he is "pretending" or trying to be. During the Fun and Games section he's been experimenting with some new things. Now he is asking himself if he is "real" or "fake."


This is the point of the story where the stakes are now raised. The Fun and Games come to an end and the main character is forced to return to his original task. He has to figure out what he does now and where he goes from this point on.

BEAT 10 - BAD GUYS CLOSE IN (pp. 165-225)

Our bad guys have now regrouped and are going to send in the heavy artillery.

Now the main character's team/friends start to disintegrate due to internal dissent, doubt, and jealousy.

The forces against the hero (internal and external) tighten their grip. That's what really happens in this Act. Evil does not give up.

The Main Character eventually finds himself alone with nowhere to turn for help and he is heading toward a huge fall, a place that leads to . . . 

BEAT 11 - ALL IS LOST (p. 225)

This is the point labeled “false defeat”. It looks total, but it’s just temporary.

Look to put in a "WHIFF OF DEATH," a place where one of the strongest allies of your Main Character can actually lose his life. Very dramatic, the floor drops out beneath him.

For example, this is where Obi-Wan dies in Star Wars. What will Luke do now, without his mentor?

It doesn't have to actually be a character that dies, either, especially if it doesn’t make sense to the story. But put in a reference to something dead here. Something dead should be highlighted even if it is symbolic. In fact, it is supposed to have reference to the old world, the old character, the old way of thinking actually dying.

It clears the way for the thesis of Act One – what was – to fuse with the antithesis, Act Two – the backward version of what was – to fuse into the Synthesis of Act Three, that being a new world, a new life.

Another example of this is in the movie ELF, this is where Will Farrell stands on the bridge and contemplates suicide, because he’s gotten himself into such a mess with everything in New York. The whiff of death.

BEAT 12 - DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL (p. 225 - 255)
This is the darkness right before the dawn. It’s the point just before the Main Character reaches way down deep and pulls out the last, best idea that will save himself and everyone around him. But at the moment, that idea is nowhere in sight.

We have all experienced a moment like this in life. We have all felt – hopeless, clueless, stupid, sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire and no money, late for an appointment that would solve all our problems. We have been beaten AND WE KNOW IT.

This is where you have the All is Lost Moment and the dark night of the soul is the hero’s reaction – how do they feel?about what they’ve just lost. That’s the moment you’re looking for here.

BEAT 13 -  BREAK INTO THREE (p. 255)

This is the break from the upside down world to a blending of worlds. A Synthesis. This is taking what the MC knew and what he learned and blending them into “the third way”. These three worlds force a change in the hero.

We set him up: Act One.

Throw him in a blender: Act Two.

And he emerges as something brand new: Act Three.

This is where the hero can learn from the bad guys closing in, see a solution, and the B story characters can provide the rest of the clue. It’s a blending of the A and B stories to present a solution to the problem and create a “third way” of living.

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