INNER MOVIE: Guess what? You’re going to write thirty pages today.
YOU: Thirty pages. Oh no!
This will probably be the easiest day so far. You are not allowed to write for more than three hours.
Here’s what goes on these thirty pages:
You need to take us from crisis to ending. We need to have all loose ends tied up. Everything that got started gets finished now. You will be carrying out the resolution of the story. Answer these questions:
Does your hero get what he wanted?
What last thing does he have to give up to get it?
How is he different in the end than he was in the beginning?
Remember your first scene of the movie – see if the last scene can be an answer to that scene. We call this bookends. Say the first scene is of two young people in wartime who get married on the refugee truck during a barrage of gunfire. The movie is the story of their lives together and the last scene is their fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration, where they finally have a traditional wedding ceremony. See if you can find a bookend scene. Jot it down on a 3 x 5 card. Now work backward.
Make a list of the points that you need to settle in order to resolve all the action, and write each down on a 3 X 5 card. Do not formulate the scenes, just write a note (e.g., “needs to rescue horse, finds out rancher was shot”). When you have cards for all the loose ends, put them in the order in which the action will appear, beginning with the first event and ending with your bookend scene. Remember, Act III is the resolution. This is where the problems get solved. Work very quickly.
Now run Act III on your inner projector. There will be very detailed, heartfelt scenes and there will be gaping holes. That’s as it should be at this point. You’ll need those gaping holes to move around in when you rewrite.
Okay. This is it. The finale. The Big Payoff. Everything you picked up and ran with, you now put down in a new light.
Remember the good feeling you get when you watch a movie and it starts to pay off at the end? It’s exciting; when the Raiders finally found the lost ark and looked inside; when the Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are finally at the airport in Casablanca. Be dramatic here. Give us some beautiful closing moments.
Ready begin …
You did it! It’s done! You’re amazing! Celebrate immediately.
There’s nothing more you have to do today.
©Andrea Nicola Dodgson, 1971.