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 has been described in different ways by Aelius Donatus in the fourth century A.D. and by Syd Field in his 1979 book Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting.
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 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, on-screen incident occurs, known as the inciting incident , or catalyst, that confronts the main character (the protagonist), and whose 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.
Romantic comedy is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life fiction, focusing on lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles. One dictionary definition is "a funny movie, play, or television program about a love story that ends happily". Another definition suggests that its "primary distinguishing feature is a love plot in which two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled".
In a literary work, film, story 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. In common usage, however, it can mean a narrative summary or story synopsis, rather than a specific cause-and-effect sequence.
Thriller is a genre of fiction, having numerous, often overlapping subgenres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock.
The climax or turning point of a narrative work is its point of highest tension and drama, or it is the time when the action starts during which the solution is given. The climax of a story is a literary element.
Foreshadowing is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. Foreshadowing often appears at the beginning of a story, or a chapter, and it helps the reader develop expectations about the upcoming events.
In literature and writing, stylistically elements are the use of any of a variety of techniques to give an auxiliary meaning, ideas, or feeling to the literalism or written.
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.
Narration is the use of a written or spoken commentary to convey a story to an audience. Narration encompasses a set of techniques through which the creator of the story presents their story, including:
In works of narrative, conflict is the challenge main characters need to solve to achieve their goals.
Dramatic structure is the structure of a dramatic work such as a play or film. Many scholars have analyzed dramatic structure, beginning with Aristotle in his Poetics. This article looks at Aristotle's analysis of the Greek tragedy and on Gustav Freytag's analysis of ancient Greek and Shakespearean drama. Northrop Frye also offers a dramatic structure for the analysis of narratives: an inverted U-shaped plot structure for tragedies and a U-shaped plot structure for comedies.
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, also called 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 division or unit of a theatre work, including a play, film, opera, and musical theatre. 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. The former use of the term may or may not align with the latter. The word act can also be used for major sections of other entertainment, such as variety shows, television programs, music hall performances, and cabaret.
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.
A narrative thread, or plot thread, refers to particular elements and techniques of writing to center the story in the action or experience of characters rather than to relate a matter in a dry "all-knowing" sort of narration. Thus the narrative threads experienced by different but specific characters or sets of characters are those seen in the eyes of those characters that together form a plot element or subplot in the work of fiction. In this sense, each narrative thread is the narrative portion of a work that pertains to the world view of the participating characters cognizant of their piece of the whole, and they may be the villains, the protagonists, a supporting character, or a relatively disinterested official utilized by the author, each thread of which is woven together by the writer to create a work.
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.”
Act structure explains how the plot of a film’s story is composed. Just like plays have acts, critics and screenwriters tend to divide films into acts, though films don't require to be physically broken down as such in reality.
Patience is a play written and published in 1998 by Jason Sherman (Doollie.com). It is about Reuben, who one day loses everything. The play follows a path similar to David Mamet's play Edmond. It traces a psychological journey through Reuben's head while he tries to figure out how everything happened. The play was written at a time when the story would hit home for a lot of middle-aged, middle-class men.
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting is a non-fiction book and filmmaking guide written by Syd Field. First published in 1979, Screenplay covers the art and craft of screenwriting. Considered a bestseller shortly after its release, to date it has sold millions of copies. It has served as a reference for Judd Apatow, James Cameron, Frank Darabont, Tina Fey and many other professional screenwriters. Now translated into more than a dozen languages, Screenplay is considered the "bible" of the screenwriting craft.