Act Two, Part Two…According to Snyder

According to Snyder’s book, Save the Cat, the second part of Act Two should contain the following sections or “beats”:

1. Bad Guys Close In – This is when everything goes wrong for the main character. The antagonist “closes in” on getting his own goal which means the main character sees that his hope from the beginning of Act Two was false. This one was a real eye-opener for me. I knew that things were supposed to go wrong for the main character (leading up to the Black Moment) but I’d honestly never considered that it should all happen at once. But now that I have implemented this, it makes a lot of sense. One other thing I learned (which has nothing to do with Snyder) is what I will call The Bad Guy Waterfall. This means that, if you have 3 plot lines, you need to make them turn in the correct order. Take this as an example:

Bob goes to his car to find it has no gas. Bob calls the store and finds out they close in 5 minutes. Bob needs milk.

All three of these things are problems for Bob, but when written in the above order, they don’t create an “All is Lost” feeling. Let’s try to switch them using the waterfall method:

Bob needs milk. Bob calls the store and finds out they close in 5 minutes. Bob goes to his car to find it has no gas.

Now, we have the feeling that all is lost for Bob. Keep this in mind when you write your Bad Guys Close In chapters. They will only lead to #2 if done in the right order.

2. All is Lost – This is the moment when the main character thinks it’s over. He can’t see any possible way to reach his goal. Others often refer to this as “The Black Moment”.

3. Dark Night of the Soul – I’d never heard of this one before (or I’d heard of it but it was included as part of #2). To Snyder, this is an extra final insight into the main character’s despair. Snyder likes to use a technique he calls “the whiff of death” here.

These three sections bring an end to Act Two. In my next post, I will discuss Act Three. I will also remind you to BUY THIS BOOK. Am I annoying you yet? No? I will try harder.