7. Februar 2023 Johannes Wolters

The Midpoint in Film — 5 Ways to Write a Compelling Act Two

How to write the midpoint of a story — a comprehensive look at story structure and the midpoint in film, including strategies writers use to link Act One to Act Three. What is a Midpoint? ►► https://bit.ly/wi-mp

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00:00 – Introduction to Theme

00:52 – Definition & History

03:13 – Functions of the Midpoint

04:27 – Add a Time Clock

04:54 – Raise the Stakes

05:19 – Force Change

07:06 – Types of Midpoints

13:08 – Takeaways


HOW TO WRITE THE MIDPOINT OF A STORY The T-Rex attack in Jurassic Park, the shower scene in Psycho, and Michael’s restaurant hit in The Godfather — some of the most iconic scenes in film history, right? They also function as one of a story’s most important plot points: the midpoint. In this video, we’ll explain why the midpoint is so important and the various types writers can choose from that best fits their story.

WHAT IS A MIDPOINT The concept of the midpoint was popularized by screenwriting guru Syd Field after he noticed his students were struggling in the second act of a three-act structure. It was his friend, director Sam Peckinpah, who explained that he always liked to hang his films on a “centerpiece,” usually in the middle, to keep the momentum going and/or to change the story’s direction. And, so, Field took this and dubbed it “the midpoint” — a major story beat or turning point in the middle of Act Two that connects the beginning and end while giving the story a boost of energy into the climax and final act.

TYPES OF MIDPOINTS Even though the midpoint placement is fairly consistent (middle of Act Two), various types of midpoints will change the story in various ways. Choosing which type to use depends on the story and how you want the new trajectory to unfold into Act Three. The first type of midpoint is the setback. This is when the protagonist encounters a major obstacle that places them further away from their goal. Like in Dune, when House Atreides is betrayed, Duke Leto is killed, and Paul and Lady Jessica are exiled to the desert. This is similar to another type of midpoint called a false defeat. This involves a temporary defeat or setback that becomes an opportunity to find a new, better plan. We can see this in The Matrix when the Oracle confirms Neo’s suspicions that he is not The One. Of course, Neo eventually does prove to be The One after he believes it for himself. On the opposite side, there’s also a false victory midpoint — the hero believes they have made a breakthrough toward their goal only to realize it would ultimately lead to failure. In 500 Days of Summer, Tom believes that he is developed a deep romantic connection with Summer, which makes their breakup all the more devastating. A reversal shifts the entire story and the protagonist’s goals. Like when Joel wants to reverse the procedure that is erasing Clementine from his memory in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There’s also the twist midpoint which is a major turning point the audience had no idea was coming that changes the direction, protagonist, or even the genre. The midpoint in a story holds a lot of potential for writers to push their narrative in unexpected and compelling ways. If you can crack the midpoint, you can crack the entire story.

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