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Article: Common Problems of Act 2... and 6 Tips to Fix Them

Common Problems of Act 2... and 6 Tips to Fix Them

Common Problems of Act 2... and 6 Tips to Fix Them

Most problems in Act Two result from:

  • Lack of Focus
    The story lacks clarity or wanders off course causing the reader to become confused about what is going on and why.

  • Insufficient Momentum
    There’s not enough energy - the story drags and stalls out instead of moving forward.


    Tip 1: Develop a Solid Structure & Present a Clear Set Up In Act One
    A solid foundation (including all the necessary components, turning points, crisis, and so on) and a clear, focused direction keep the story on track allowing the reader or audience to easily follow along as Act Two unfolds.

    Tip 3: Create a Strong First Turning Point
    A strong first turning point will go a long way to help push the movement forward as the story enters the second act.

    Tip 3: Use Action
    Keep your characters acting instead of talking – use complications, obstacles, and reversals to infuse Act II with energy.

    Tip 4: Keep Your Three Storylines Progressing
    The A (external problem), B (internal conflict), and C (relationship issue) storylines should continue to develop - but not be resolved until Act III.

    Tip 5: Use Cause-and-Effect Scenes
    Cause-and-effect scenes - A happens and causes B to result, which then causes C, and on and on - create conflict and action, and give the story direction and momentum.

    Tip 6: Design Scene Sequences for Clarity and Movement
    A sequence is a series of scenes (usually two to five) that are linked together and build toward a common goal. Linking related scenes that rise in tension creates momentum and keeps the second act moving forward.

      YOUR TURN: Are there areas in Act II where you can substitute action points for dialogue? Are you using scene sequences to add energy to the second act? Is the story focused or does it wander? Does the first turning point pull the reader into the second act and create momentum? Are the A, B, and C storylines progressing throughout Act II?