Act climaxes



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  • Act climaxes

    I find it hard to know which events are the act climaxes sometimes. Take "Raiders of the lost ark" for example, is the incident where Belloq takes the ark from Indy (and then Indy escape to London) the end of act 1? Is the event where Indy blow up the car with Marion in it the Point of no return?

    Is the act 2 climax when the Germans take the ark and Marion from the pirate ship or is it earlier when Indy and Marion are trapped inside the well full of snakes and later get out? The third is easy and obvious but the other ones are quite hard to point out sometimes. I appreciate any help!

  • #2
    My stab at it:

    The golden ildle sequence is all setup/character dev. Sort of like a teaser scene in a TV script.

    Inciting Incidident: The chalkboard scene where Indy and the US officials realize that the Nazi's plan on using the Arc as a superweapon.

    Act One Break: When Indy finds out the government wants him to after the Arc. The beginning of Act 2 is the scene when he boards the plane to Nepal, thus we are presented with the MDQ: Will Indy manage to get the arc before the Nazis?

    The scene in Marion's bar is Indy making progress towards his goal, while being presented with New Obstacles: Mainly his relationship with Marion.


    • #3
      This might help:

      ACT ONE



      Establishes who the main character is and what the characterâ€TMs internal and external problems are. Also establishes the setting, period, tone, style and point of view of the story.

      (i.e. Romeo is love sick and the Montague and Capulet Families are feuding so much that the next person to start a fight will be punished by the Prince.)


      The SETUP: CHARACTER WITH A PROBLEM sequence usually contains the CATALYST which is the first hint of what the main dilemma will be because of the first, usually innocuous, moment where the plot begins to act on the character and launch the story.

      (i.e. Romeo is love sick, emotional, impulsive, and goes to a party to forget his troubles)


      Establishes a new problem which steers the story in a new direction and hints at bigger obstacles to come as the hero struggles to deal with the new disruption to his life.

      (i.e. Tybalt discovers Romeo is at the Party and wants to kill him on the spot. Tybalt is told not here, but soon and in another place he will be free to kill Romeo. Romeo meets and impulsively falls in love with Juliet.)



      The NEW OPPORTUNITY / PREDICAMENT sequence usually contains the INCITING INCIDENT which is the first significant event where the plot overtly acts on the character and completely disrupts and alters the characters life. The Inciting Incident contains the roots of the cause of the action.

      (i.e. Romeo acts impulsively and meets Juliet. He impulsively falls in love at first sight)


      An event caused by the antagonist that forces the character to take new action and defines the POINT OF ATTACK where the character "attacks" the problem and creates the ACTION that is the unfolding drama.

      This redefines the heroâ€TMs general wants/needs into a specific goal and sends the story in a new direction.

      The POINT OF ATTACK is an action taken by the hero which raises the Major Dramatic Question that is the primary concern of the plot.

      (i.e. Romeo and Juliet are married which raises the MDQ: â€Will Romeo and Juliet find happiness togetherâ€.)

      ACT TWO



      The hero makes progress toward their goal. There are new conflicts and higher obstacles introduced that places the characterâ€TMs success in doubt.

      (i.e. Romeo and Juliet are very happy together and Romeo promises to not be so impulsive and end the feud between their families. Tybalt seeks Romeo out to kill him.)


      The PROGRESS: NEW HIGHER OBSTACLES sequence usually contains the MOVING FORWARD METAPHORE: ARC DEFINITION which contains overtones about the characterâ€TMs growth and hints at the outcome of the story.

      (i.e. Romeo tries to make peace with Tybalt. Tybalt rejects his offer and demands they fight to the death. Romeo struggles to control his impulsive nature and walks away from the confrontation.)


      The POINT OF NO RETURN is a point in the story where the hero is confronted with an obstacle that is so large that if he continues he will risk so much that he will be unable to go back to the relative safety he was in before and must follow his new path to its inevitable conclusion. Itâ€TMs a point of decision and action that defines a very low point in the story where any hope of success for the character seems small and the answer to the MDQ is in doubt.

      (i.e. Romeo, trying to make peace with the feuding families, allows Tybalt to kill his best friend Mercutio. Romeo impulsively swears revenge and sets out to find and kill Tybalt putting in doubt the MDQ: â€Will Romeo and Juliet find happiness togetherâ€.)


      A beat immediately after the POINT OF NO RETURN that doesnâ€TMt necessarily advance the story but it does illustrate the characterâ€TMs change because of the PONR. This beat is usually an up beat to contrast the down beat of the PONR.

      (i.e. Mercutio jokes about his own death. Romeo regrets the role he played in Mercutioâ€TMs death and gives in to his impulses and emotions.)


      The goal is harder to achieve than the hero thought and is tested more than he ever expected. Subplots develop and further complicate the heroâ€TMs path to his goals and raise the stakes.

      (i.e. Romeo finds Tybalt and impulsively kills him which causes a serious permanete rift between his and Julietâ€TMs family and forces Romeo to leave Juliet behind as he flees to avoid the Prince. If he returns he will be killed, putting in doubt the MDQ: â€Will Romeo and Juliet find happiness togetherâ€.)


      The conclusion of one dramatic tension and the start of a new one. The hero moves inexorably closer to his goal and discovers new info and better understanding of the nature of the opposition before him. The antagonist is aware of the heroâ€TMs actions and takes actions to prevent the hero from learning the truth about the conflict and obstacles the hero is trying to overcome. The focus shifts from subplots to the main plot.

      (i.e. Juliet and the priest devise a plan to unite her and Romeo by faking her death and inform Romeo of it by a message so he can come and take her out of the city. There is hope for a positive answer to the MDQ: â€Will Romeo and Juliet find happiness togetherâ€.)


      The greatest set back of the story for the hero. It appears as if achieving the goal is impossible but the hero has no choice but to try because he will have an even worse fate should he abandon his quest now. The heroâ€TMs internal needs/flaws are confronted defining the heroâ€TMs arc. The hero discovers a hidden truth about the nature of the obstacle and conflict to his goal which sets a new path for the hero that will lead to an inevitable conclusion and answer the MDQ.

      (i.e. Romeo learns that Juliet is dead, but has not received the message that her death was faked. He impulsively decides to return to the city. Which puts into doubt a positive answer to the MDQ: â€Will Romeo and Juliet find happiness togetherâ€.)




      The intensification of the heroâ€TMs quest for his goal that will result in getting something new or different from what he originally set out to achieve. The actions of the hero set into motion events that contain the answers to the MDQ and the roots of the result of the action.

      (i.e. Romeo seeks a poison so he can die with Juliet and they can be together in death which again puts into serious doubt any hope of a positive answer to the MDQ: â€Will Romeo and Juliet find happiness togetherâ€.)


      The hero has reached the end of the path that has brought him to his goal. The only thing standing in his way is one obstacle that is greater and unlike any faced before. In this moment the hero must finally confront his internal flaws/needs and be changed in order to achieve the external goals and finally answer the MDQ.

      (i.e. Romeo impulsively gives into his emotions and drinks his poison to die at Julietâ€TMs side. She awakes and kills herself to be with him in death. *Note because Rome and Juliet is a tragedy he was not able to confront and overcome his internal flaw of being impulsive and ruled by emotions which led to his demise. This answers the MDQ: â€Will Romeo and Juliet find happiness together†saying no they will not have the happiness in life they wanted.)


      The final outcome of the story and how the heroâ€TMs life has been changed because of it.

      (i.e. The feuding families have been forever altered by the actions of the hero and the hero will forever be together with the woman he loves in death if not in life)


      • #4
        Wow, Deus... if you wrote that, then Michael Hauge owes you some money. I say you sue him.

        No. Seriously. Great post. I'm copying that text down. It's good stuff.


        • #5
          It's a synthesis of structural theory from Aristotle to Price to Grebanier with a healthy does of my own interpretations and opinions.


          • #6

            When are you going to write your book? I think I'll still have enough money remaining on my Borders gift card to buy it, but damnit, get to it soon.



            • #7
              Deus that was awesome. Have you read the writer's journey by Chris Volger? He outlines the story similar to how you did. Anyway, very good stuff.


              • #8
                Brilliant. This post should be moved to the FAQ section.

                Just on the subject of RAIDERS - I read somewhere that it wasn't written in a standard 3 act structure - I believe it may have been 7 acts? Comments?



                • #9

                  That is the best summary of story structure I have ever seen. I will try to use it with the next scripts I´ll read. Thanks.


                  • #10

                    I warn you not to look below the title to films you haven´t seen. They can ruin the whole experience of the film(;

                    Doesn´t the Inciting incident raise the MDQ sometimes? In your example Romeo meet Juliet (the lovers meet). In that moment the MDQ is raised: Will the lovers stay together? I may be wrong.

                    Panic room:
                    Catalyst: When Meg buy the house.
                    Inciting incident: When Burnham breaks in to the house.

                    Catalyst: Ripley is back to earth and wakes up.
                    II: When Ripley accept to go to the planet and check it out.

                    Kramer VS. Kramer:
                    Catalyst: ?
                    II: When Ted´s wife leave him and Billy.

                    Eternal sunshine:
                    Catalyst: He takes the trip.
                    II: The "lovers" meet.

                    Catalyst: ?
                    II: When they are zapped to Pleasantville.

                    Catalyst: Rambo is taken to the police station.
                    II: When he fight his way out of the police station.

                    The silence of the lambs:
                    Catalyst: Agent Starling gets an assignment, to try to get information from Hannibal Lecter.
                    II: She meets him and gets a clue.
                    By the way. The turning point of Act one is the murder of the girl that help Bill lift an armchair, right?

                    When I try to figure out the turning point of act one there are two possibilities. It´s either when Kane get the alien thing on his head or when the alien pops out of his chest. And the inciting incident could be the bad landing on the planet and the catalyst the signal from the planet that wake them up. I don´t know.

                    The reason I am posting all of this is to hopefully get some help with some (for me) familiar films. Can you say that the catalyst is the at first harmful place or situation that where the II will take place. Like the journey somewhere that often has been used.

                    Even though there are all these rules that say this is a II, that is a turning point of act one, I often can´t know for certain what is what. There are sometimes all sorts of things going on in the beginning of a film that for me could be either the Catalyst or the II or several events that could be the II. I would appreciate any help I can get regarding my post. Thanks.


                    • #11
                      Re: Act climaxes

                      Haha, no seriously.. I wonder about these things a lot.. Like when I ask if it really is necessary to write character profiles. I felt like I did something wrong because they didn´t seem to work for me when I wrote them. So I found out that they don´t work for everybody by asking a question here on Donedeal, isn´t it great? I don´t have too much confidence in what I feel works and doesn´t, I´m very new to this. The books I´ve read said that this was a great tool and had to be used in order to create "real" characters (at least that´s the impression they gave me).
                      - Tomas


                      • #12
                        Re: Act climaxes

                        The MDQ is raised when the character takes action that defines his goal and the new direction of the story. This may happen fairly close to the II, which by definition is the cause of the hero taking the action, but it isn't until that action that the hero's goal and major dramatic question of the story is defined.
                        For example:

                        When Luke sees the message from the Princess it is the inciting incident, but there is no MDQ raised because Luke is still on his story trajectory of staying to work the farm with his Uncle. It isn't until Luke decides to go with Ben to deliver the Death Star plans to the Rebels that the MDQ of "will Luke be able to save the rebels?" is raised. Before that action the MDQ could not exist, it is Luke's action which gives him and the story a new trajectory with a new goal which in turn raises the MDQ about his ability to achieve that new goal.

                        It isn't until Romeo marries Juliet that the new goal of living happily ever after is formed which also results in the MDQ regarding Romeo's ability to achieve that goal.

                        Fortune favors the bold - Virgil