THE SUMMIT

The summit is the height of your plot where a lot of the action is happening and where a character shift occurs. Your characters have been tested and have made the climb to overcome their challenges and get what they want. The summit can either be followed by the triumph or fall of your characters depending on the length of your manuscript and the complexity of your characters’ purposes.

In Scarface, the summit spans across three scenes: Frank affirming that he is the ‘boss’ after Tony makes his deal with Sosa; Tony confessing his feelings to Elvira; and finally, Tony being confronted by Mel Bernstein and seeing Gina at the Babylon Club. These three scenes relate to all of Tony’s character elements and act as a last minute ‘review’ of his decision before he takes action. Tony does not attain his highest aspirations here, the summit in Scarface is soon followed by a hasty fall, rise, and triumph.

THE FALL

Success does not come easy in reality, so why should it be easy for your characters? Realistic characters need to make mistakes, they need to face failure and learn from it, otherwise their triumph cannot be admired. The fall should be the most emotionally volatile aspect of the plot arc, after all, your character has just worked hard only to experience immense failure. How do they come back from this?

There are two falls in Scarface. The first fall occurs right after the events of the summit; Tony assaults Gina when he sees her with Fernando, and later, he is almost killed by Frank’s hitmen at the Babylon Club. This emotion has more impact on the audience as Tony attacks the people he loves and is left vulnerable, unable to cope with his own behaviours, which gives his enemies the opening to attack him. But he overcomes his enemies and continues his journey to the rise, driven by his wants and resentments.

Like in Scarface, your character can experience a second fall. This usually occurs because they have, yet again, overlooked their flaws or the power and motivation of their allies and enemies. Generally, a second fall indicates a character that refuses to change and will likely be defeated due to their own negligence.

The second fall takes place after Tony triumphs because he succumbs to his fears. He has achieved his wants and needs, but is terribly paranoid about losing them. He argues with Manny and Elvira constantly, gets caught for tax evasion and money laundering, and is notified by Sosa that their operation in America has been compromised. The end of the second fall is marked by Elvira leaving Tony after a vicious argument at dinner–Tony loses his need. At this point, the audience realises that Tony won’t survive what follows this fall, he will die due to his own failures and flaws.

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