Screenplay : Three Act Structure

  • Screenplay writing is the art of visual storytelling.
  • A screenplay is a story told with pictures, in dialogue and description, and placed within the context of dramatic structure.
  • There are two aspects to write a screenplay: One is the preparation required to write it: the research, thinking time, character work, and laying out of the structural dynamic. The other is the execution, the actual writing of it, laying out the visual images and capturing the dialogue.
  • To tell a story, first we set up characters, then introduce the dramatic premise (what the story is about) and the dramatic situation (the circumstances surrounding the action), create obstacles for the characters to confront and overcome, and then resolve the story.
  • Set-up, Confrontation, and Resolution
  • A screenplay, is a story with a subject, which is usually about a person, in
    a place, doing his thing. The person is the main character and doing his thing is the action.
  • These elements are expressed dramatically within a structure that has a definite beginning, middle, and end, though not necessarily in that order.
  • In screenplay writing roughly one page translates into one minute of screen time.\"Three
  • Act I, is a unit of dramatic action that is held together with the dramatic context known as the Set- Up. Context is the space that holds the content.
  • Act I, sets up the story, establishes character, tells what the story is about (the premise), describes the situation, and creates the relationships between the main character and the other characters.
  • In first 10 minutes/pages, screenplay writer establishes all this to continue the interest as well concentration of audience in the movie.
  • Act II, held together with the dramatic context known as Confrontation. During this act the main character encounters obstacle after obstacle that keeps him from getting his need, defined in the screenplay.
  • All drama is conflict. Without conflict, you have no action; without action, you have no character; without character, you have no story; and without story, you have no screenplay.
  • Act III held together with the dramatic context known as Resolution. Resolution does not mean ending; resolution means solution, that resolves the story. The ending is that specific scene or shot or sequence that ends the script.
  • To get from set-up to confrontation and then to resolution screenplay writer creates a Plot Point at the end of both Act I and Act II.
  • A Plot Point is defined as any incident that hooks into the action and spins it around in another direction. A Plot Point is always a function of the main character. Plot Point I is the true beginning of the screenplay and swings the story around into Act II.
  • Plot Points serve an essential purpose of major story progression in the screenplay; and keep the story line intact in place. Plot Points do not have to be big, dynamic scenes or sequences; they can be quiet scenes in which a decision is made. There could be many plot points in a screenplay.

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