Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Three Act Format

(I'll get back to the other mechanics posts in a bit. I wrote this for a site I run.)


-Each plot has 3 parts. (Broken down into independent but interconnected events we will call acts)

-They are: the setup, the confrontation, and the climax.

-The SET-UP establishes the characters, the location, and the motivations. (Tell them who is involved, how they are related, where they are, and why they should care)

-During the first act a dramatic event occurs that will be the main focus of the plot. (This is often called the “call to action” in Joseph Campbell's “The Hero's Journey”... but that's a whole other can of worms we won't be touching)

-The second act is called the RISING ACTION by some. This is where a lot of the action starts. The character(s) are pitted against the dramatic event in the form of a challenge.

-This could be any kind of challenge. It could dramatic, spiritual, physical, or even an intellectual (ect) challenge. Don't just limit yourselves to fighting. (Though a slug-fest AWALYS works well :D )

-The third act has 2 parts. The CLIMAX and the DENOUNCEMENT.

-In the CLIMAX, everything comes to a head and all plots and subplots are resolved.

-The DENOUNCEMENT (or “resolution”) is that time between the CLIMAX and the actual END. It shows how the plot effected the characters and how they changed/grew. (How things are different)

-The denouncement doesn't have to be long.

-This 3 act structure is awesome. I encourage you to look for this it on 3 different levels. In your plots (the “episodic” level), in your character's entire run (the “developmental level”), and on a global plot level (on the “season” or “overarching” level. Let me worry about that though...)

Extra Reading:
-Dramatic Structure
-The Three-Act Structure
-The Hero's Journey
(Seriously... if you wanna be a good writer... this dude knows his stuff! Everything from Star Wars to the Odyssey and everything in-between follows this format on some level!!!)

Note: I know they are all wikipedia links... it's just a good place to jump off from. (Check the links at the bottom of the article!)

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