The three-act structure is a model used in narrative fiction that divides a story into three parts (acts), often called the Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution. It was popularized by Syd Field in his 1979 book Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. It has been falsely attributed to Aristotle who in fact argued for 2-act and 16-act plays.Aristotle split the play into two acts: δέσις (desis) and λύσις (lysis), which roughly translates to binding and unbinding, although the contemporary translation is "complication" and "dénouement".
As the story moves along, the plot usually progresses in such a way as to pose a yes or no question, the major dramatic question. For example, Will the boy get the girl? Will the hero save the day? Will the detective solve the mystery? Will the criminal be caught by law enforcement and brought to justice? Will the protagonist be murdered by the fugitive? This question must be answered in the climax of the story. The answer is often yes; no; maybe; yes, but...; or no, and what's more...
The first act, or opening narration, is usually used for exposition, to establish the main characters, their relationships, and the world they live in. Later in the first act, a dynamic incident occurs, known as the inciting incident , or catalyst, that confronts the main character (the protagonist). The protagonist's attempts to deal with this incident lead to a second and more dramatic situation, known as the first plot point, which (a) signals the end of the first act, (b) ensures life will never be the same again for the protagonist and (c) raises a dramatic question that will be answered in the climax of the film. The dramatic question should be framed in terms of the protagonist's call to action, (Will X recover the diamond? Will Y get the girl? Will Z capture the killer?).
The second act, also referred to as rising action, typically depicts the protagonist's attempt to resolve the problem initiated by the first turning point, only to find themselves in ever worsening situations. Part of the reason protagonists seem unable to resolve their problems is because they do not yet have the skills to deal with the forces of antagonism that confront them. They must not only learn new skills but arrive at a higher sense of awareness of who they are and what they are capable of, in order to deal with their predicament, which in turn changes who they are. This is referred to as character development or a character arc . This cannot be achieved alone and they are usually aided and abetted by mentors and co-protagonists.
The third act features the resolution of the story and its subplots. The climax is the scene or sequence in which the main tensions of the story are brought to their most intense point and the dramatic question answered, leaving the protagonist and other characters with a new sense of who they really are.
Tragedy is a genre of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a main character. Traditionally, the intention of tragedy is to invoke an accompanying catharsis, or a "pain [that] awakens pleasure", for the audience. While many cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, the term tragedy often refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of Western civilization. That tradition has been multiple and discontinuous, yet the term has often been used to invoke a powerful effect of cultural identity and historical continuity—"the Greeks and the Elizabethans, in one cultural form; Hellenes and Christians, in a common activity," as Raymond Williams puts it.
In a literary work, film, or other narrative, the plot is the sequence of events where each affects the next one through the principle of cause-and-effect. The causal events of a plot can be thought of as a series of events linked by the connector "and so". Plots can vary from the simple—such as in a traditional ballad—to forming complex interwoven structures, with each part sometimes referred to as a subplot or imbroglio.
A plot device or plot mechanism is any technique in a narrative used to move the plot forward. A clichéd plot device may annoy the reader and a contrived or arbitrary device may confuse the reader, causing a loss of the suspension of disbelief. However, a well-crafted plot device, or one that emerges naturally from the setting or characters of the story, may be entirely accepted, or may even be unnoticed by the audience.
Deus ex machina is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence. Its function is generally to resolve an otherwise irresolvable plot situation, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or act as a comedic device.
Aristotle's Poetics is the earliest surviving work of Greek dramatic theory and first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory. In this text Aristotle offers an account of ποιητική, which refers to poetry and more literally "the poetic art," deriving from the term for "poet; author; maker," ποιητής. Aristotle divides the art of poetry into verse drama, lyric poetry, and epic. The genres all share the function of mimesis, or imitation of life, but differ in three ways that Aristotle describes:
Narrative structure is a literary element generally described as the structural framework that underlies the order and manner in which a narrative is presented to a reader, listener, or viewer. The narrative text structures are the plot and the setting.
Greek tragedy is a form of theatre from Ancient Greece and Greek inhabited Anatolia. It reached its most significant form in Athens in the 5th century BC, the works of which are sometimes called Attic tragedy.
Traditionally, conflict is a major literary element of narrative or dramatic structure that creates challenges in a story by adding uncertainty as to whether the goal will be achieved. In works of narrative, conflict is the challenge main characters need to solve to achieve their goals. However, narrative is not limited to a single conflict. While conflicts may not always resolve in a narrative, the resolution of a conflict creates closure or fulfillment, which may or may not occur at a story's end.
Dramatic structure is the structure of a dramatic work such as a book, play, or film. There are different kinds of dramatic structures worldwide which have been hypothesized by critics, writers and scholars alike over time. This article covers the range of dramatic structures from around the world. How the acts are structured, what the center of the story is supposed to be about widely varies by region and time period.
A plot twist is a literary technique that introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the plot in a work of fiction. When it happens near the end of a story, it is known as a twist or surprise ending. It may change the audience's perception of the preceding events, or introduce a new conflict that places it in a different context. A plot twist may be foreshadowed, to prepare the audience to accept it. There are a variety of methods used to execute a plot twist, such as withholding information from the audience or misleading it with ambiguous or false information.
Screenwriting or scriptwriting is the art and craft of writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, television productions or video games. It is often a freelance profession.
An act is a major division of a theatre work, including a play, film, opera, or musical theatre, consisting of one or more scenes. The term can either refer to a conscious division placed within a work by a playwright or a unit of analysis for dividing a dramatic work into sequences. As applied, those definitions may or may not align. The word act can also be used for major sections of other entertainment, such as variety shows, television programs, music hall performances, cabaret, and literature.
Anagnorisis is a moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery. Anagnorisis originally meant recognition in its Greek context, not only of a person but also of what that person stood for. Anagnorisis was the hero's sudden awareness of a real situation, the realisation of things as they stood, and finally, the hero's insight into a relationship with an often antagonistic character in Aristotelian tragedy.
Lajos N. Egri was a Hungarian-American playwright and teacher of creative writing. He is the author of The Art of Dramatic Writing, which is widely regarded as one of the best works on the subject of playwriting, as well as its companion textbook, The Art of Creative Writing. Beyond the theater, his methods have also been used to write short stories, novels, and screnplays.
Narrative criticism focuses on the stories a speaker or a writer tells to understand how they help us make meaning out of our daily human experiences. Narrative theory is a means by which we can comprehend how we impose order on our experiences and actions by giving them a narrative form. According to Walter Fisher, narratives are fundamental to communication and provide structure for human experience and influence people to share common explanations and understandings. Fisher defines narratives as "symbolic actions-words and/or deeds that have sequence and meaning for those who live, create, or interpret them." Study of narrative criticism, therefore, includes form, genre, structure characterization, and communicator's perspective.
A character arc is the transformation or inner journey of a character over the course of a story. If a story has a character arc, the character begins as one sort of person and gradually transforms into a different sort of person in response to changing developments in the story. Since the change is often substantive and leading from one personality trait to a diametrically opposite trait, the geometric term arc is often used to describe the sweeping change. In most stories, lead characters and protagonists are the characters most likely to experience character arcs, although lesser characters often change as well. A driving element of the plots of many stories is that the main character seems initially unable to overcome opposing forces, possibly because they lack skills or knowledge or resources or friends. To overcome such obstacles, the main character must change, possibly by learning new skills, to arrive at a higher sense of self-awareness or capability. Main characters can achieve such self-awareness by interacting with their environment, by enlisting the help of mentors, by changing their viewpoint, or by some other method.
Fiction writing is the composition of non-factual prose texts. Fictional writing often is produced as a story meant to entertain or convey an author's point of view. The result of this may be a short story, novel, novella, screenplay, or drama, which are all types of fictional writing styles. Different types of authors practice fictional writing, including novelists, playwrights, short story writers, radio dramatists and screenwriters.
Writing Drama is a treatise by French writer and filmmaker Yves Lavandier, originally published in 1994, revised in 1997, 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2014. The English version was translated from the French by Bernard Besserglik and published in 2005. The book exists also in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
Domestic drama expresses and focuses on the realistic everyday lives of middle or lower classes in a certain society, generally referring to the post-Renaissance eras. According to the English Communications Syllabus, domestic drama refers to a dramatic story containing an emphasis on its “characters' intimate relationships and their responses to [the] unfolding events in their lives.” The characters, their lives, and the events that occur within the show are usually classified as 'ordinary' events, lives, and characters, but this does not limit the extent of what domestic drama can represent. Domestic drama does, however, take the approach in which it “concerns people much like ourselves, taken from the lower and middle classes of society, who struggle with everyday problems such as poverty, sickness, crime, and family strife.”a domestic drama is an drama that is usually being used in comedy.
Mythos [from Ancient Greek μῦθος mûthos] is the term used by Aristotle in his Poetics to mean an Athenian tragedy's plot as a "representation of an action" or "the arrangement of the incidents" that "represents the action". Aristotle distinguishes plot from praxis – which are the actions the plots represent. It is the first of the six elements of tragedy that Aristotle lists.