The Second Act Doldrums

While I have not made the half hour of progress per day as I planned in December, I am still hard at work on the new screenplay. This one I have faith in, it’s the first action movie I’ve written and already I see franchise potential. OK, that’s going too far, but at least I am past page sixty and not giving up. My problem is that while I’m into the second act I don’t really know where to go next. I have a great introduction, and even a wonderful ending in the bank, but this part is a stumbling block. My characters are out on the road, they’re running away from the bad guys and they’re going…somewhere.

My solution is to spend some more time this week outlining. I have a two page guide but have since abandoned it. As my story-world has become more complicated, the guide has filled with notes and become too messy to understand. Anyway, I have new goals for the screenplay.

For the second act, I want my characters to get to a specific place, but I don’t want them to make it there too fast. I want that climactic final scene to feel earned. I want to reveal certain mysteries embedded in the story, but I don’t want those to feel too obvious, either. And I want the audience to get to know the characters well enough that they’ll want to follow them into the third act. I have a lot to work through.

I’m open to suggestions. Those who have waded through the second act doldrums, help! What works best? What should I do next?

6 responses to “The Second Act Doldrums

  1. Well, Michael Halperin’s book on Writing the 2nd Act wasn’t much of a help to me… it’s definitely the hardest part. Have you tried Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet method? It helped me guide through all three acts pretty well so far. Wish I was in LA and we could figure it out ; )

    So you’re planning on writing a “blockbuster” sort of ? Geez,…

  2. Ooo, sounds like an interesting new work. Another friend of mine was recently touting the virtues of Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet / Save the Cat as well, so that might be worth a shot. I’m a huge fan of this guideline: But I haven’t hit my murky middle yet, so I don’t know if it will save me in (the novel equivalent of) the second act, or not. Good luck!

  3. Thanks for the link. I will definitely have to check out “Save the Cat.” Everyone is telling me to read it.

  4. I need a few lessons here on the Act 2 stuff too.

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