THE ACT II Climax
Friday, 10.13.2017, 09:00 AM
THE ACT II Climax
By Christopher Keane
The act II climax is not always easy to mark but it's got one factor that
establishes its reason for being. It's the lowest point in the story for the
main character the bottom of the bottom of the barrel. In most situations, in
real life, most people would give up their lives at this point, but not in a
movie. The character can't go back and can't stay put, and looks as if he or
she can't go forward either. BUT! Hamlet sees the play in which the player king
pours poison in the ear -- a reenactment, Hamlet thinks, of how his uncle had
killed his father -- and watches closely for his uncle's reaction... BINGO!
There it is. He sees the twitch. Claudius, the bastard, did kill his father!
Hamlet's devastated. Not only did his uncle kill his father, but this also confirms
that Hamlet';s own mother was having an affair with his uncle and she is a
cocpnspiratpor. The worst possible situation is true!
Hamlet never asked for this. He just came home oin Spring Break from college,
for a little R and R. Now he's got his father, dead. His uncle did it. His
mother did it. His girlfriend is half mad. The kingdom is in total disarray.
And now he's got to kill his uncle, the king, and maybe - maybe? fuck all, real
good chance of - losing his own life before he even gets to Claudius.
This is the moment when the main character knows what he has to do if he wants
to solve the problem. But to do it he has to climb out of this pit, buckle up,
fight all the forces telling him to go to sleep or run, and march up the
perilous mountain (or through the deadly swapms) of Act III, all the while
keeping focus (with all the other stuff going on), fight the tougest battle,
physically and emotionally, that he or she has ever fought, and hopefully
prevail, emerging with life intact, against all odds, and even wisdom and logic
- because if she doesn't she will be (if she's not dead) condemned to be free
to live the most awful life she could ever imagine.
So the climax at the end of Act II is that moment of decision that will launch
youir character into the cesspool of Act III, without an assurance of anything
except that if the journey is not made the alternative is too frightening to
Now there's where your character should be.
Talk about a climax.
Chris Keane is a member of the Writers Guild of America West, the Author's Guild and Pen. He has written screenplays for feature films and television. He has written 14 novels including The Hunter with Steve McQueen. Chris has taught at colleges and universities all the US and abroad. He lives between LA and Cambridge, Mass. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org