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The 3rd Act: Writing a Great Ending to Your Screenplay: A Structural Approach to Writing Great Endings Paperback – 1 Sep 2001

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Product Description

About the Author

Drew Yanno is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Fine Arts Department at Boston College in the USA, where he teaches courses on screenwriting.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x86a79e40) out of 5 stars 20 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x868e6948) out of 5 stars True Screenwriting Gem -- A great book for writers and film critics alike! 18 Sept. 2006
By A. Bradley - Published on
Format: Paperback
Thank god someone has finally written an intelligent and helpful book on 3rd Acts!!

Having earned my MFA in Screenwriting from USC and working full time in development, I have read hundred of scripts. I can say for a fact that even the best writers can meet their downfall in the crucial third act (see Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown).

I have seen many good scripts crash and burn at page 80 - the start of the 3rd act. Usually the writer has no idea how to resolve their plotlines, and winds up taking shots in the dark. The truly amazing scripts have killer third acts - every moment of the previous scenes as been building to this. The mediocre scripts have satisfying, yet never surprising, third acts. And truly horrible scripts? Well, those writers never considered their third act while writing the first act.

Yanno walks the reader (and screenwriter) through the key types of scenes often seen and usually required in successful 3rd acts. He breaks down the mechanisms of the 3rd act, and of scripts in general, without losing the purpose of writing - to tell a story that evokes emotion.

During his numerous examples, Yanno does not discriminate with his taste in films. He discusses a wide range of movies: classics, modern releases, art house flicks, and even popcorn blockbusters. Most screenwriting books focus on the author's one or two favorite examples, Yanno uses almost 20!

Although I read The 3rd Act as a screenwriting guide, it works equally as a critical discussion of story structure - and therefore would be a tremendous value to writers and film theorists alike.

I really hope this is the first in a series by Drew Yanno. His thorough and friendly examination of other areas of screenwriting in definitely needed.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x868e9150) out of 5 stars Helps with more than just the ending! 10 Sept. 2006
By Rich Flair - Published on
Format: Paperback
I had the privilege of taking Yanno's screenwriting classes a few years ago, and when I heard he was coming out with a new book, I knew I had to buy it right away. While there are so many screenwriting books on the market, there aren't too many that focus exclusively on the hardest part of a script: the ending. As a struggling screenwriter myself, I know how difficult it can be to write a complete script from beginning to end. I also know how difficult it can be to find the perfect ending to a script that refuses to escape from a state of unfinished purgatory. Yanno's book helps a writer escape that depressing limbo by providing helpful insight to end your movie the right way. Yanno knows that a movie's ending can make or break the story. He knows that a bad ending can make the best movies feel stale, and agrees that even the opposite is true; that a great ending can make a mediocre movie seem better than it really is. The strength in Yanno's book not only rests within the many examples of great movie endings, but also with a good amount of bad movie endings--some of those movies being movies that Yanno himself liked a lot, but agreed that the quality of the ending is the reason why the movie is seen as a failure. While the bulk of this book is focused on showing how to create a great ending, by use of these examples, Yanno has also included a list of thirty questions that I believe is the perfect blueprint for a screenplay as whole. While those thirty questions help the writer form an ending that bests fit with the script's story and characters, they also help the writer isolate the core of the script's story and characters in order to make a complete work more complete. In closing, Yanno's book is a vital (and affordable) tool that any screenwriter should possess in order to make your work truly stand out (in a good way)!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x867b5348) out of 5 stars Keeping It Simple 17 Oct. 2006
By J. Britten - Published on
Format: Paperback
Problem solved! Drew Yanno's book arrived just in time as I was about to give up on a spec script that I had wrestled with for the past six months.

After reading his book, my problem became quite clear. I had conflict, I had resolution, but I had neglected to answer the question raised in the first act.

I use the word "simple" purposefully as this is the style of Mr. Yanno's writing. He lays out guidlines for great endings in clear, plain English. No math degree needed, no plot points, no concentric circles, no diagrams.

The book is rife with specific examples of how great endings were fashioned in a wide range of great movies from Casablanca to Gladiator. His dissection of the third act of the latter was particularly instructive to me as it always struck me as contrived. Walking through the construction of the act, the author explained how and why it was the best way to resolve the ultimate conflict while answering the first act question.

So, if you think your script needs a geometric fix, read McKee. If you want to satisfy your audience with a great ending, read Yanno.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87115630) out of 5 stars Start With the End In Mind 20 Mar. 2009
By Stanley D. Williams, PhD - Published on
Format: Paperback
Drew and I had the privilege of working together on the story breakdown of an upcoming major motion picture. It was through that work that we became familiar with each others' book. His THE 3RD ACT and my book The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue & Vice for Box Office Success. Drew's book is extremely important, and wonderfully detailed analysis of one of the most important concepts in any project, but especially motion pictures: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. I have consulted on countless films and it's amazing how many times the end of the story has little to do with the beginning of the story. (Actually, when that happens the writer really doesn't have a story.) One of Drew's mantras is to make sure that your Third Act answers the questions you ask in the First Act. But he's been around the industry long enough to realize that there are just way too many writers who never understand that you have to ASK the question in First Act in the first place. Thus, what is really good about Drew's book is that it does not just talk about the film's ending, but how EVERYTHING in the story has to point to the end. And the only way you can do that is to BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. If you don't know the answers to most of Drew's critical questions (at the back of this book) please, please don't even begin to write. Instead, put all the dramatic beats to your story on 4x6 cards, paste them to a wall, and make sure that the cards with questions on them are at the top of the wall, and that the events LOGICALLY unfold so that the question's answers are on cards taped to the wall's bottom. Drew also looks carefully at 17 films (from various genres) and applies the rules of how to make a great film work by ensuring THE 3RD ACT is satisfying and connected to everything else. Good job, Drew, hope we work together again, soon.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x86da1948) out of 5 stars A must-have for your screenwriting library! 1 Oct. 2006
By J. Ritchie - Published on
Format: Paperback
While many screenwriting books attempt to instruct you on how to write an entire screenplay, Drew Yanno has wisely chosen to provide readers with an in-depth dissection of arguably the most memorable portion of a screenplay--the third act. Instead of lecturing you on abstract concepts ad infinitum, Yanno clearly presents easy to grasp structural guidelines while providing succinct examples of those guidelines from popular films such as Rocky, Casablanca, Chinatown, Gladiator, and more. The book is not only an examination of endings, but of the entire third act and how it relates to everything you have built up to that point. Even experienced screenwriters should give this a read to hone their skills or simply remind them of practices they may already be doing. With a flowing, comfortable prose and intelligent film anaylsis, The 3rd Act should be required reading for any serious screenwriter.
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