I am knee deep in the changes for Come Ups, and while I can’t say I feel as unsure about them as I did in the last blog, I’m still a little trepidatious about the changes. I’ve lost the big confrontation scene between Reydel and the Sheriff that kicked off the midpoint, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. It was a brutal scene and really brought home the violence and danger of the situation for Reydel (and the audience), but was the midpoint the right place for that? Shouldn’t the audience already know the danger? This was the problem with the top of the second act leading to the midpoint, according to Screenplay Readers; the characters stopped acting and started waiting. That scene kicked everything into high gear, but it was 20-25 minutes late.
I have replaced the scene with a modified version of the bonfire scene where Reydel burns the bodies of his crew. Originally, we discover the Sheriff is the mysterious Hiram when he makes a phone call to Reydel and essentially orders him to kill his friend Ramón. There are a couple of things wrong with this. First, somebody making threats over a cell phone is not all that threatening. Second, Reydel killing Ramón makes him less likeable even if he is doing it under duress. Third, revealing the Sheriff as Hiram over the phone is not all that dramatic (a point made by Screenplay Readers).
The new version delays the reveal of the Sheriff as Hiram at the crime scene. We are left thinking he is just a sheriff looking into the deaths of his officers. The idea that Buck was skimming from the Sheriff is also taken out. Without the skimming storyline, there is no longer a need for the character. He’s out of the story.
Moving to the bonfire, the sheriff makes an unexpected appearance, freaking out both Reydel and Ramón (much more dramatic). Then we realize the sheriff is Hiram (a twist). And it is the sheriff who kills Ramón as a warning to Reydel to take care of business. This takes the onus of Reydel and places it on Hiram (our antagonist). Hiram gives Reydel 24 hours (instead of 48) to recover the lost goods or else. As a result, what kicked off our story originally at the midpoint now happens 25 minutes earlier at the top of the second act.
While this certainly amps up the stakes and the energy, it is going to cause major problems in other scenes that will have to be rewritten to reflect this change. Have I mentioned how much I hate rewriting?