Friday, September 28, 2012


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

Okay, Act 3 isn't very big, but it is very important. Let's take a look at it:
 ACT 3 -
 Act 3 consists of only 2 more beats: the "Finale" and the "Closing Image."

What happens is that the hero figures out what to do and has a final showdown. After that it's the closing image, which is simply the resolution following the showdown.

The final image is important, however, since it has to clearly demonstrate how different the Main Character is compared to how we saw him on page 1.

BEAT 14 - FINALE    (pp. 255-330)
The Finale actually consists of 5 very important points:

1.  Gathering the Team
The allies, or friends of the Main Character have to come back together. They may not be on speaking terms because reconciliation is a painful process, but they're back because ultimately loyalty rises to the top. Either way, they have to find a way to work together.

2. Executing the Plan
This is the "storming of the castle" - so-to-speak. It must be challenging but at this point in story, it also has to feel foolproof. It should feel like, "There's no way we can actually do this," but they are going to try it anyway. As the story unfolds the reader should be thinking, "I can't believe it! They might just pull this off!"

A great example is in the movie Independence Day when Will Smith and Jeff Goldbloom are actually considering flying an alien spaceship up into outer space, entering the mother ship, infecting it with a computer virus and getting out of there in one piece.

As it looks like they are actually going to pull it all together, this is where the growth of the minor characters pay off and satisfy some arcs. It might even appear that perhaps "this is too easy..."

3. The High Tower Surprise
Think of the archetypical story where the hero reaches the high tower where the princess is being held - or where he believes she is being held - and he gets there to find NO PRINCESS! Surprise!

We see now that we have become over confident in our plan. The bad guys may have even known we were coming the whole time. It is at this point that traitors are exposed. Our brilliant plan was nothing more than a trap set by the Bad Guys.

No matter how much the Main Character has endured, suffered and accomplished, in the end, it was simply not enough. The real challenge of what the hero must do, the tests he must pass, become clear.

4. Dig Down Deep
The whole point to the finale is now revealed and it is not what we expected. All human solution is exhausted. There's no back-up plan, there's nothing. It is all down to the hero now - and he's come up short. It is now up to the hero to strip everything away, and find the last ounce of strength in order to win. 

This is the point in the story where Obi-Wan says, "Use the Force Luke!" It's the point at which the Main Character must abandon the natural world and go into the world with faith unseen.

5. Execute the New Plan
The answer comes from a place we've all hoped is real, and when the hero trusts enough to use it, HE WINS! And consequently, so do we. 
It was only by stepping into the unknown - and trusting it - that the Main Character (now truly the "Hero") could find the way to triumph.

BEAT 15 - FINAL IMAGE    (p. 330)
This is where we end the book with the Main Character now, transformed into a synthesis of the two beings he has been throughout the story: the original lump of clay, then the twisting and forming of his character through the last two Acts until he is a combination of the two. 

Think of Peter Parker who by the end is both Spiderman and Peter Parker, a fused new character. 

My next posting will discuss outlining using the 15 Beat System. Then a bit about how to organize and work on re-writes once you have a first draft completed.

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