The Act 3 Hurdle

I don’t have a desk chair.  The one I had previously was old, it wasn’t that comfortable, and it was that ugly gray office style kind of chair with thick black plastic arms.  It also had wheels.  My little dogs did not appreciate the terrible noise the wheels made against the wood flooring in our apartment, and neither did I for that matter.  We had been through a lot together over the 10 plus years, we had written so much, but when The Sis and I decided to leave Los Angeles, I realized I didn’t want to move it again.  Honestly, I didn’t want to see it again.  It was time to end the co-dependent relationship, and so I chucked it into the alley behind our building, hopeful someone would find it and give it a new home – a sad fate for my faithful companion.

So now, I have no chair.  I have to drag the chaise I sit on when I watch tv or game over to my desk, which is too low to utilize as a desk chair, and then have to sit on the back pillow and prop myself up like a booster seat.  My dogs like it because they have more room to spread out beside me, but long bouts of writing are not to be found under such conditions.

It’s so awkward.

It sounds like I’m making excuses as to why very little writing has occurred since I determined to write more, and maybe, I am, a little, but the truth is I’m trapped on how to start Act 3.  I reread the first two acts, and was empowered to finish this story properly…which is why I think I’m struggling to find the right place to start.  I don’t have the time to play around with this one anymore – I have deadlines to make, and this story has been worked over so many times it’s pretty unrecognizable since it debuted many, many, many years ago.

EditingI broke out some screenwriting books hoping to gain some insight, and I thought I’d share a few pearls I discovered.  Hopefully, if you’re struggling, you’ll find them useful as well.

1. Have your hero give up just before they reach their goal.  By the third act they have determined that they want “it” and they are going to go after “it”, but exhausted they give up just short of reaching “it”.  The example used was The African Queen and how they tried so hard to get the boat to the open water, to give up about three feet from it.  Then it rains and sets them adrift.

2. Bookends.  Can the last scene be an answer to the first?  The example was a couple who fall in love during war time and are married on the back of a truck, so at the end of the story they have a proper wedding to commemorate their 50th wedding anniversary.

3. Make a list of all the questions asked or ideas raised throughout your script and be sure to answer them.  This is something I have found to be useful so there aren’t any loose ends or plot holes by the end.  It’s a great way to look back over your story as a whole and see that those ideas/themes continued throughout.

4. My last helpful tip is to talk the story over with someone.  I used The Sis as a spring board and found that by voicing my ideas aloud about how I wanted the story to end was more useful than trying to work it all out in my head.  She asked questions that made me reevaluate my ideas and concepts.  Also, when you explain your story to someone, they can immediately tell you if something doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work.

Although I discovered all this useful insight, I’m no closer to the opening scene I need, but I’m thinking that I just need to jump in.  I know the story, I’ll find a good point to start, and let the chips fall where they may.

When I asked two separate people, I received the same response…”it was a dark and stormy night”.  🙂  I’d love to hear back from all of you.  Any advice on a great third act opener?

Happy Writing everyone!


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