Plot: Act 4 (part 1)

ACT 4 (part 1):

Act 4 has twice as many steps as acts 1, 2, and 3.

It has ten steps:

Let’s start by discussing…

The first 5 steps:

  • B Plot Resolution
  • Final Plan
  • Gate
  • Gauntlet
  • Darkest Hour

B Plot Resolution:

You resolve the B plot.

Give it some closure. Again, like the other B plot steps, this one is movable. You might want to aim for the beginning of act 4, but you could resolve the B plot at any point during the act.

Final Plan:

Coming off of the success or failure of act 3’s plan

Your main character needs one more plan to finally achieve their goal.

Gate:

This refers to the threshold your main character has to cross as they enact their final plan.

This is a big moment in your story. You give some attention to the fact that a threshold is being crossed. It could be metaphorical or literal. Your main character could throw down their police badge as they drive off to help the outlaws. Or your main character could literally open the gates of Hell itself and step through to the other side. Once the gate is passed, they have to deal with the…

Gauntlet:

This is the string of obstacles standing in your main character’s way.

Between them and their goal. A punishing sequence of challenges which lead to the…

Darkest Hour:

This is when all hope is truly lost.

We’ll take a look at the last 5 steps of act 4 in the next post.

Let’s apply what we’ve covered to our bank robbery example:

ACT 4 (first half):

  • B Plot Resolution
  • Final Plan
  • Gate
  • Gauntlet
  • Darkest Hour

B Plot Resolution:
The commissioner approaches the getaway car, revealing himself as the leader of the kidnappers. Our main character pulls some moves and takes him hostage. He has the commissioner call his goons to release Recruiter-Guy’s daughter. The Recruiter-Guy B plot, has now been resolved.

Final Plan:
We establish that our main character’s final plan is to take the commissioner hostage, and use him to get away.

Gate:
Our main character has to pass through the impossible barricade of cops. He hits the gas and smashes through it…

Gauntlet:
Resulting in a perilous high speed chase as he tries to evade the police.

Darkest Hour:
The police are slow to keep up, it seems like our characters will get away. But then a tire gets blown out – the car flips over, crashing across traffic. They’re cooked.

Oooh noooooo!

Some Details:

What if we hadn’t resolved the B plot so early in act 4? What if we moved it to the middle? What would that look like?

Well, let’s say we resolve it right now, near the Darkest Hour.

In the wreck that used to be the getaway car, Recruiter-Guy makes a deal. He’ll let the police commissioner go, in exchange for setting his daughter free. The commissioner agrees. Makes the call. And they let the commish go.

The police are now closing in. Recruiter-Guy is too injured to run. He sacrifices himself to give our main character time enough to get away. Recruiter-Guy goes down in a storm of police bullets. A very different end to the B plot, and maybe, a better one.



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