When you have solid character traits, the structure should rapidly crescendo and crash the ending.
Crash = “put everything you’ve got into it & don’t leave anything behind for a sequel b/c there may not be a sequel.”
The biggest problems come when writers fail to escalate/crescendo in Act 2.
A few tips:
- More car crashes or train wrecks do not mean you’ve escalated the tension.
- Tension arises from the protagonist and antagonist traits that clash in increasing increments. (Ironically, writers often pick traits that are too easily solved in a few scenes. Pick a good trait that needs a whole script to be worked out.)
- Allow the character to gloat once in awhile. Then hit ‘em hard in the next scene.
- Does it have to be 3 acts? Not necessarily, although that is usually the easiest.
- I imagine the turning points as telephone poles, and the scenes as the cables strung between them. You wouldn’t believe how many times there are cables that go into the ground (scenes that go off on tangents) or cut cables (the action stops, starts, stops, starts). It’s no wonder electricity can’t get through.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Structure isn’t by accident. You have to deliberately drill where the telephone poles will go, and use the right kind & amount of cable so it will reach from pole to pole.