Writer's Digest

Three Mistakes Writers Make in Act I

After the euphoric moment of typing “FADE OUT” on a first draft, your story simmers in a drawer while you take a much-needed break to sort piles of dirty laundry. Now, it’s time to dive back in and explore what story elements work and where your story might have gone off track.

Often, the fix for a dissatisfying ending or lackluster middle happens in the first 20 pages. The first act lays the foundation for your entire screenplay.

When we get a story idea, it’s easy to rush the setup, wanting to get to the meat of the conflict. Rewriting requires dissecting those early pages to see if you maximized their potential.

Typically, there are three mistakes writers make in the first act.


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