The Most Dramatic Moment Shifts the Story in the Midpoint

One of the most dramatic moments in any story is the midpoint. The midpoint is where the hero seems to get the greatest moment of success, but since this success doesn’t resolve the hero’s emotional problem or the villain, it creates a False Victory. Then the midpoint reveals the true danger to the hero.

In “Alien,” the first half of the story is about discovering an alien life form that latches on to a crew member’s face. However, by the midpoint, the face hugger alien has fallen off and died. At this False victory midpoint, the hero thinks everything will be all right.

Then the alien bursts out of the crew member’s chest and the real threat appears, which is the killer alien as it runs around the starship, picking off crew members one by one.

Another dramatic shift in a story occurs in “The Crying Game.” In the first half of the story, the hero is just an IRA member who kidnaps a British soldier and then befriends him. To honor his friend’s wishes, the hero goes to visit the British soldier’s girlfriend, and then discovers he’s actually a man.

That’s a huge twist in the story nearly as memorable as the alien bursting out of a man’s chest. The midpoint should be a hugely dramatic moment that begins with a False Victory of success, and ends with the real danger to the hero.

In “The Greatest Showman,” the hero has been trying to win the approval of high society. That’s when he hires a beautiful singer who impresses everyone, especially a critic who has constantly dismissed the hero as nothing more than a huckster. After the critic sees this beautiful singer on stage, he finally admits the hero is more than just a huckster.

Watch this midpoint moment from “The Greatest Showman” and you can spot the False Victory moments in the beginning followed by the real danger by the end. This video clip shows several people reaching a False Victory followed by the danger they face immediately afterwards:

  • The hero finally wins the approval of high society by showing off a beautiful singer, but now that he’s enamored of this beautiful singer who has gotten him society’s approval, his attraction to her threatens his marriage to his wife.
  • A friend and fellow investor who has fallen in love with an acrobat, who his rich parents think is beneath him. His False Victory is when he holds her hand to let her know he loves her, but then when he spots his parents glaring at him, he lets her hand go and she storms off.

The greatest moment of triumph is also the beginning of the hero facing the real threat. In “The Greatest showman,” this real threat is that the hero has money and society’s approval, but he risks trying to keep getting more at the expense of his own family.

The other moment of triumph is when his friend and fellow investor finally shows affection for the acrobat he loves, but then releases her hand under the disapproving glare of his parents. Now he must resolve this problem by either committing his love to the acrobat or turning away from her to gain the approval of his parents.

The midpoint of any story should be one of the most powerful, memorable, and dramatic moments in your story so outline your story and make sure the midpoint begins with a False Victory and ends with the real danger to the hero.

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