Structure: The Moment of The Midpoint, Rocky II
A Midpoint is a moment in your story where the Hero makes a decision that changes the trajectory of the story. It’s preceded by a sequence of events; events that generally occur between pages 50 to 60. It’s literally the middle of your script.
In Rocky II, Apollo Creed’s challenge to Rocky is a rematch of the fateful fight from the first film. Apollo can’t live with the fact that everyone believes that Rocky was the real thing, that the fight should have been a draw. He gets hate mail. He’s inundated with opinions that he should not have been crowned Heavyweight Champion of the World. Apollo’s goal in Rocky II is to prove everybody wrong by getting Rocky back in the ring so he can prove once and for all that Rock was a “lucky punk street brawler.” So that’s Apollo’s goal. Get Rocky back in the ring and prove his critics wrong.
But what does it have to do with a Midpoint?
Until now, Rocky’s retired from fighting. Adrian’s pregnant. They’re living a modest lifestyle. Rocky’s lack of education keeps him from finding a white-collar job. More over, he’s suppressing what he really is, which is a fighter. This is the story that makes for the first half of Act Two.
What begins the Midpoint Sequence is Apollo’s public challenge. He holds a televised press conference and lays all the cards on the table. He wants the Italian Stallion, and he wants him bad. He wants to prove once and for all that Rock’s a punk. He assumes that Rocky’s inaction to his repeated challenge is proof that he was a one-off. It’s a good argument and it speaks to Rocky’s inner conflict. Such is the role of a great adversary. A great adversary is one who makes a great argument.
Apollo’s message hits Rocky like a lightning bolt through his heart. Why? Because it speaks to the voice in Rocky’s head that tells him he’s still a fighter. And more, that he’s a man. Inaction would be to lie down. And Rocky doesn’t lie down. When he walks away from the television and Adrian follows him upstairs, he speaks from his heart. “I’d never ask you to stop being a woman,” he tells her calmly. “So don’t ask me to stop being a man.”
A fighter is what Rocky is. It defines him. If he stops, if he lays down, he dies.
Mickey knows this, too. He’s been watching Apollo’s press conference from his house, and moments later, there’s a knock on Rocky’s door. It’s Mickey.
I think we oughtta knock his block off.
And that’s the moment of the Midpoint.
The story has changed now. Rocky leaves with Mickey and a renewed purpose: Train for a rematch with Apollo Creed.