3 Act Story 3 Keys To Unlock Your Second Act

By Armaan Uplekar

If act one introduces audiences to your story, act two is the chance to tighten your grip on them: Raise the stakes, show your protagonist what defeat looks like and throw in a monkey wrench or two. For many writers, the second act is the tipping point – it’s the longest stretch of your story, and in many cases, the most complicated. It can be easy to lose yourself, and your readers, in the wilderness of middle-act intrigue as the plot literally thickens.

Luckily enough, there are a few simple guidelines that can help you navigate the thornier aspects of Act Two. By ensuring that your script touches upon the items outlined in this checklist, you can find ways to keep your story moving, your characters fighting, and your audience enthralled.

Does My Second Act Raise the Stakes?

3 Act Story 3 Questions You Must Ansswer Truthfully About Your First Act

By Armaan Uplekar

With a handful of variations, the three-act story structure is a tried and tested formula relied upon and employed by story-tellers since the times of Aristotle to tell a clear and focused story. It is the most widely used and recognized narrative device to arrange plot points and emotional beats in a way that best tells a story with the greatest emotional impact on its audience. At its core it’s as easy as Beginning – Middle – and End, others refer to it as Set-Up – Confrontation – Resolution.  However, as simple it sounds, there is more to crafting a well-executed three-act screenplay that will get you noticed in Hollywood.

Act one is all about perception. It’s your golden opportunity to lure the reader in and plant them in the world of your screenplay; to enmesh them in the characters, settings and story you’ve painstakingly woven. It’s also your opportunity to lose your audience if you don’t know what you’re doing: a rickety first act is all it takes for a producer to put your script in a discard pile and pass on it completely. As a result, the stakes are high and the message is clear: First impressions are essential.

Crafting a riveting first act takes skill and a firm grasp on the contours of your story. You need to be able to understand how to hook a readers’ attention and keep it, while continuing to introduce plot points, conflict and characters. These three questions are vital to ask yourself to ensure your first act is firing on all cylinders and hitting the required narrative beats experienced industry readers and are trained to look for in the first 30 pages.

4 Tips for Writing Engaging Dialogue

By Armaan Uplekar

Dialogue, in many ways, provides the thrust to a good screenplay. It gives characters a voice and it gives a good story its rhythm; in many ways, it’s the way audiences receive vital information such as backstory and plot details. Good dialogue can clarify and develop relationships between characters.  The right line of dialogue can stick in an audience’s mind – memorable, iconic even. It can even transcend the screenplay itself, becoming ubiquitous: There’s a reason “You talkin’ to me?”, “I’ll be back” and “I’m walking here!” have permanent places in the pantheon of pop culture.

Writers Block 5 ways to beat the blank pageBy Armaan Uplekar

For many writers, there’s few things as crippling as a case of writer’s block. It can stunt your productivity, dampen your voice, and shake your confidence in your abilities. Every writer, at some point or another, is forced to grapple with a time where their own words may not come forth so easily. You’re ready to write, the computer is up and running, but your brain is not. Self-doubt begins to creep in and you decide, before you do anything, that you need another coffee.

Moments like this can feel like running headlong into a brick wall. There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at a blank screen, willing yourself to write, but feeling unable to do so. Thankfully, there are a few tried and true methods that can help you shake your writer’s block and get you back on track with your project.

Blueprint Banner

Outlining. Many writers cringe or scratch their heads in confusion when presented with the task. But consider an architect who attempts to construct a building without a blueprint. He wouldn’t know where to start, he probably wouldn’t have a clear vision of the expected outcome, and the building would probably not be very well made. The blueprint ensures each step of construction is accounted for and the end is clear from the beginning. Similarly, in screenwriting, the outline will ensure a purposeful structure and a clear end goal for your story.

Despite its importance however, the idea of outlining varies greatly and is open to interpretation. Each writer has their own unique process that they undergo before they launch themselves into their next project. However you decide to go about it, the process of outlining before you begin is essential to writing a successful screenplay.

The pros to outlining are plentiful. What makes outlining important, is that it has the potential to give you a clear sense of direction and purpose before you write Act 1, Scene 1. You can clearly visualize act by act and even scene by scene. It also allows you to write in a cohesive manner that prevents many of the logic problems that plague those scripts that have not been as thoroughly thought through before the actual writing process begins. It allows you to know the end goal from the very beginning. Outlining will not only lead to you writing a stronger first draft, but also greatly improve your abilities as a writer, making you more efficient and precise. Outlining will bring a clear sense of structure to your screenplay, and will help bring structure to you as a writer. Outlining is an often-undervalued part of the writing process that can nevertheless reap great rewards for diligent writers. Here are a few tips primed to help you with your outlines before you FADE IN:

Classic Third Act Blunders

Ensure that you are not falling prey to the traps so many writers make in writing their final act.

The third act of a script can be a challenge for any writer to tackle. No matter what genre you work in, the third act is the culmination of a script’s preceding pages: it’s the writer’s responsibility to bring the story home and leave their audience with a satisfying conclusion.

These final pages are an opportunity to leave your reader with a sense of finality and can often make or break a script. To stick the landing, a writer must have a keen sense of their work’s overarching character and story, while giving readers a clear resolution. That being said, there are three common, identifiable mistakes that readers often make in the third act that, if corrected, can easily make a script stronger and more dynamic.

1000x500 article banner keep you creative

If you’re like me, a vigorous workout at the gym leaves you exhausted, physically spent, with nothing left to give. The last thing I want to do is to try and be creative. That said, we know it is scientifically proven that exercise is the key to keeping the body and brain, healthy and in top form.  

We asked six screenwriters what exercises they do to keep motivated and keep the creative juices flowing throughout the day. Here is what they had to say!

hollywood sign Cropped3 Essential Keys For Writers, To Guarantee Your Script Gets Read

Getting your script read as an unknown writer in Hollywood can be a tricky game. Even when a script is received at an agency or production company, whether it has been solicited or not, it will often end up in their “circular file”.

There are many steps an aspiring screenwriter must undertake to ensure their script is received and read by agents, managers, and producers, but how do you know your script is going to be given serious and thoughtful consideration? Many of these steps are vital in the process, but many others are the result of overthinking trivial issues. Whether you have the WGA registration number on the cover page is not going to make or break your script people! I have seen forums dedicated to the issue.

To be quite honest, such issues will never really matter much as to whether you get signed, your project gets made, or if the script even gets read. There are however three keys, that if adhered too, will always ensure your script receives a warm welcome and will always be read with fervor.

Dream Sequences Article3 Dream Sequences You Must Avoid Writing

Few things are as electrifying to write for a screenwriter as the dream sequence.  These sequences come in many shapes and forms and serve many purposes: Prophetic visions of things yet to pass; flashbacks hinting at a character's tragic backstory; abstract visualization of a character's psyche—the variations are endless!  But all too often, even an experienced screenwriter will fall back on a dream sequence to advance their story, and cause these complex narrative devices to feel familiar, forced, and out of place.

But why do so many writers feel the need to include dream sequences in their scripts? The answer is quite simple: Dream sequences are fun and easy to write because they allow a greater freedom to defy the rules. But writing a dream sequence because it’s fun can’t be the only reason to insert one into your script. Unless the dream sequence is established in such a way that it feels fresh and purposeful, it will ultimately become just a narrative crutch.

Always be sure your dream sequence clearly advances your story and your character’s journey. Like the often-overused voice over, if it doesn’t fit seamlessly into the narrative and gel with the tone of the film, it will only serve to distract your reader.

Here are three overused dream sequences you will want to avoid unless it serves a clear purpose to your story and your characters.

Taking Time-Travel To Another DimensionFour Tips to Writing Time-Travel Screenplays that Sell

In my experience reading and evaluating screenplays, I’ve noticed an obvious trend amongst so many science fiction and fantasy writers:  You really love time-travel!  As a genre fan whose written a few scripts myself, I always found time-travel to be one of the most daunting subjects in speculative fiction.  So much research and thought must be put into an exciting time-travel story that makes sense to the audience, just thinking about it makes my head spin!  Which is why I’m surprised so many young writers insist on jumping into the complex dimensions of our space-time continuum. 

Here are four tips all future science-fiction writers must consider if you're hoping to sell the next Terminator or Back to the Future.

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