Quigley Down Under

Movie: Directed by Simon Wincer.

Inciting Event: American sharpshooter Matthew Quigley arrives at Australian rancher Elliott Marston’s remote station, where he exhibits his skills with his modified Sharps rifle as an audition for the job he has travelled across the world to procure.

Although there is no direct conflict yet between Quigley and Marston, their introduction to one another sets up the conflict that will follow. It also indicates Marston’s cold-blooded nature, when he guns down two British deserters.

First Plot Point: Marston reveals to Quigley that his true motive in hiring a sharpshooter is to have him hunt down the aborigines, who have learned “to stay out of rifle range.” This is the Key Event.

Incensed, Quigley tosses Marston out of his own house, only to be knocked out by Marston’s aboriginal manservant and dumped in the desert, along with Crazy Cora, an American woman who occasionally believes Quigley is her husband “Roy.”

First Pinch Point: The true “pinch” arrives when the British troops return to Marston the bodies of the men who dumped Quigley and Cora in the desert. Quigley killed them, regaining his rifle. Marston’s realization that Quigley is still alive is the pinch that emphasizes his further pursuit of Quigley.

Meanwhile, the turn in the plot arrives for Quigley when he and Cora collapse in the desert and are rescued and healed by aborigines. This segment has its own ominous feel, both from the threat to Quigley’s and Cora’s lives, due to their dehydration, and also from the generally eerie tone as the aborigines haul them away.

Midpoint: Marston’s men pursue and murder several of the aborigines, eventually leaving only a toddler alive. Quigley learns the direction of the nearest town, finally allowing him to begin taking decisive and progressive action for the first time. We also get a nice Moment of Truth from Cora, just prior to the Midpoint, when, in a moment of sanity, she reveals to Quigley the truth about why her husband abandoned her in Australia.

Second Pinch Point: Quigley rides to the nearest town alone, to fetch water and another horse. While there, he is spotted by Marston’s men and a shootout ensues, in which the wife of the shopkeeper who was helping Quigley is killed. Quigley sends a message back to Marston, warning him that he’s coming to kill him. This both emphasizes the stakes and neatly foreshadows the Third Plot Point.

Third Plot Point: Quigley leaves Cora and rides away to confront Marston. There isn’t a decisive low moment here, but the threat of death hangs heavy in the air, and we feel Cora’s dread that Quigley won’t return to her.

Climax: After dispatching most of Marston’s men, Quigley is wounded, captured, and literally dragged into the station to face Marston. Just as it should, the Climax narrows the story’s focus down to the final confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist. Marston sets up a pistol duel with Quigley, believing he only knows how to handle a rifle.

Climactic Moment: Quigley kills Marston and his remaining two men.

Resolution: A wounded Quigley faces down the British Cavalry, only to have the aborigines appear in force and scare off the British. This is not the Climactic Moment, for the simple reason that the main conflict was never between Quigley and the British. The main conflict ended the moment Quigley killed Marston. This is just a loose end—as is Quigley’s returning to America with Cora.

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s monthly e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.

Email: