Screenwriting 3/4 — Hero’s Lowest Point — Act II

Greetings all,

I”ve used the term Apparent Defeat in this course. Most of you know what it means (especially the students who took Screenwriting II with me, since one of the required texts for that course was John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story. The term “apparent defeat” was coined by Truby.)

There’s also an APPARENT VICTORY if your story is a tragedy. But we won’t get into this now.

As you all know by now, “apparent defeat” your hero’s lowest point. It’s the ORDEAL in the myth structure. It’s one of the important stops in the roller coaster ride of your hero.

It happens toward the end of Act II, about two thirds of the way into the film. Your hero believes she’s lost and the opponent has won. Why do we need an apparent defeat? Because we love to see our hero come back with a vengeance and win. The victory may be small, but it’s an important one for hero, without which she cannot continue living her life.

John Truby, in The Anatomy of Story, reminds us that “… the apparent defeat is not a small or temporary setback.  It should be an explosive, devastating moment for the hero. The audience must really feel the hero is finished.  Although your hero should have many setbacks throughout her journey, she should have only one moment that clearly seems to be the end. Otherwise, the story will lack shape and dramatic power. ”

See if you can work in an apparent defeat into your story.

And here’s a treat. David Mamet interviewed by the film critic Elvis Mitchell. Mamet mentions many story points we’ve been discussing in class. Audio only. About 28 minutes long.
See you in a week.


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