Act Two: Obstacles - 12 Essential Elements

Act Two: Obstacles - 12 Essential Elements


This is the meat and potatoes portion... AND the most difficult part of writing a screenplay. Most mediocre and flawed screenplays are plagued by slow or meandering second acts. Keep in mind the main tension - and that your character should always be on the path to resolving that tension.

The second act begins right after the lock-in: the moment when the character is stuck in the predicament and main tension - it is too late to turn back, so he/she must go forward. Now the character aims towards the goal, the objective, and he/she has the first meeting of the obstacles and antagonists or circumstances, always with rising actions. 

The first sequence usually presents the alternative solutions. What are the choices? What should be done? And the character selects one alternative, and if it should be the worst one, then he selects another one, and in the meantime, the rest of the alternatives are eliminated. Then the character uses one of the ways to solve the predicament, and it seems to work, and that’s usually the first culmination or midpoint. 

But it’s not that simple, because there are consequences of things that happened before that he didn’t take into consideration. He offended somebody. He didn’t do things that he was supposed to do. He forgot about things. You bring those things back in the second part of the act, and at that time they can be entered almost without motivation, because anything that works against your character at that time is acceptable. Any accident, any coincidence is fine because it makes his predicament worse, and therefore we enjoy it. Also it helps to explore the validity of the desire of the dream. 

ACT TWO: ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS

OBSTACLES: The second act is all about obstacles. It elaborates in great detail and intensity on the difficulties and obstacles the hero faces as he or she struggles to achieve his or her goal. Just when we think the situation can’t get worse, it does. And when there is no way that our hero can get out of the jam, he does, only to end up in a worse jam. Basically, each sequence centers around a new obstacle or obstacles of increasing difficulty.

FIRST ATTEMPTS: Now that the character is locked-in, he makes his first attempts to solve the problem. This is usually the simplest, easiest manner to resolve the problem, and these attempts usually fail. 

RAMIFICATIONS: It is important to show the ramification of the attempts, which must result in an increase in complications. 

Read the full article on TheScriptLab.com

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