[Today we're reading Ch. 19 A Movie Gave You a Bad Case of Pity & Fear? The Doctor Recommends a Catharsis, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002).]
I read a script last week that built and built and built pity, fear, suspense, of 90 pages, but then addressed the catharsis in a few paragraphs.
I scritched my head. (Yes, scritched. Scratched would mean I was looking at something logical.)
What the heck happened?
I think that we as writers are often afraid to let our characters suffer...but are also afraid of letting them reach success, because that means the arc is complete.
A catharsis must be carefully planned out so the audience can see the consequences of the actions. What has the character has learned, or not learned? What are the aftershocks of the decisions?
This is the moment of release, the moment we'll pinpoint as the moment the character realizes what he/she has to live with forever. Make sure you've channel that feeling of remorse or happiness or satisfaction into their actions so we have no doubt what the journey has done for them.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Catharsis is a moment where we sigh in relief or weep in sadness with the main character. We finally know what the journey is all about.
[DISCLAIMER: I have not been asked, nor paid, to read or comment on this book.]