Posts tagged ‘climax’

January 2, 2013

Quote of the Day: Colin Greenland

Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader’s desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That’s called suspense. It can bring desire to a frenzy, in which case you are in a good position to bring off a wonderful climax.

January 24, 2012

Fulfilling Film Endings: Both Happy & Sad

Billy Mernit of Living the Romantic Comedy has written a new article commenting on another article, Perfectly Happy, Even Without Happy Endings. Mernit writes:

An article in this past Sunday’s NY Times strikes me as required reading for any screenwriter who has ever attempted to answer the question, “What does the audience want?”

Perfectly Happy Even Without Happy Endings, by Carrie Rickey, explores what Lindsay Doran (who produced Sense and Sensibility and Stranger Than Fiction, among many other films) has learned from her extensive research on how movies work upon our emotions, and from the teachings of Dr. Martin Seligman, a “catalyst of the positive psychology movement” who has identified the five essential elements of well-being as: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.  Analyzing hits and critical favorites, Doran confirmed what she’d intuitively suspected about what audiences responded to in movies that worked:

She broke down their emotional components, isolated the elements of mood elevation and tested her findings against those of market researchers. She concluded: Positive movies do not necessarily have happy endings; their characters’ personal relationships trump personal achievements; and male and female viewers differ in how they define a character’s accomplishments. Ms. Doran had long been drawn to “funny dramas and comedies that make you cry,” she said. Now she knew why.

Read more of Mernit’s analysis here.

April 11, 2011

Climaxing the Right Way (In Your Script)

This article by Candace Kearns Read lays out some important guidelines to follow while crafting the third act of your script, and particularly the climax:

The climax is the action the protagonist chooses to take after facing the moment of crisis, where he or she is pushed to the edge with no way out.

This section of the screenplay is what gives the rest of the story meaning. It often delivers the moral, or theme of the story and it is where the writer can make sense of everything. But endings are often the hardest part to write. That’s why too often, writers settle for the obvious or overly simplistic solution instead of digging deeper to find an ending that is both satisfying and surprising.

The Height of Intensity

The Chinese symbol for crisis actually delineates two words: Danger and Opportunity. This idea can help writers beef up the endings of their scripts. The moment of crisis, which leads to the climax, needs to be full of danger, either emotional, physical, or both. Something of great value is at stake – a human life, a relationship, or as Joseph Campbell calls it, “the treasure.” Whatever it is, it is in grave danger. But at the same time, there is an opportunity, for new life, for growth, and for a payoff nobody could have imagined 100 script pages ago.

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