Act Three – A Guideline
The story’s end. It normally runs about 15 to 18 pages.
The protagonist, somehow, someway, comes up with an idea of how to fight back and win.
Perhaps a brilliant solution he/she enacts, perhaps during the battle a solution shows itself, perhaps the protagonist discovers the antagonist’s heretofore unknown Achilles heel and uses it to the protagonist’s advantage.
The protagonist can have a little help from his/her friends, but in the final denouement, it must be the protagonist who confronts, does battle with (verbal or physical), and overcomes the antagonist…because it is the protagonist in whom the audience has invested all their emotions and has been rooting for throughout.
There’s nothing more annoying, disappointing and downright maddening to an audience when the hero of the piece isn’t allowed to be the hero.
Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion help Dorothy escape from her prison, but it’s Dorothy who confronts the Wicked Witch and melts her into a pile of goo.
And it may be Toto that reveals the “man behind the curtain” as the Wiz, but Dorothy is the one who dresses him down revealing him for the con man he is, forcing him to make good his promises.
And then there are the bittersweet endings – where the protagonist achieves his/her goal, wins the day, but in the process loses something else.
Dorothy makes sure the Wiz grants her friends – a heart, a brain and courage – where each then has a realization resulting in the end of their character arcs, but they are accompanied with the bittersweet moment they realize they’ll never see Dorothy again.
And finally – the kind witch Glinda arrives, and with her arrival comes Dorothy’s character arc. Her epiphany: “There’s no place like home,” and home she is.
Of course there are down endings – where the protagonist loses it all – the box office successes of those are usually far and few between.