The first act creates context

A first act creates the context: the facts a reader needs to understand the story going forward. It contextualizes a lot of things including: Character Who are we following and what’s their deal? What’s their archetype? what are their distinct traits? What do they want? Take a movie like THE VERDICT. At no point doesContinue reading “The first act creates context”

Three act structure may be bullshit, but it’s useful bullshit.

Three act structure falls into a category I call “useful bullshit.” Typically arguments over three act structure become a tedious fight about whether it’s always the best or whether it even exists. It’s a mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain an idea without necessarily holding it to be true. Therefore, IContinue reading “Three act structure may be bullshit, but it’s useful bullshit.”

The main value of structure is that it allows writers to see how incidents radically change their story depending on where they are placed.

Three act structure. Just by using that term, I have guaranteed that a sizable percentage of the people who read this will have stopped listening. Those people are busy composing angry replies about how stupid and/or malevolent I am. I look forward to reading those. I get that people hate three act structure, but theContinue reading “The main value of structure is that it allows writers to see how incidents radically change their story depending on where they are placed.”

Why people hate three act structure (and why I like it)

Here’s a quirk of human nature: we form opinions early, and then we cherry pick facts that support the notion we formed. Go visit /r/politics or any mac vs pc argument, and you’ll see this principle illustrated vividly. I learned 3 act structure early (Syd Field’s screenplay). It helped me, so I like it, soContinue reading “Why people hate three act structure (and why I like it)”

Thoughts on Film Critic Hulk’s “Myth Of The Three Act Structure”

People occasionally cite Film Critic Hulk’s indictment of the three act structure to me. I’ve always hated it. Film Critic Hulk’s original post. My version with more standard and readable grammar. I translated it into plain English because I’ve always suspected that Film Critic Hulk uses his style to obfuscate poorly thought-out ideas and an extremely tenuousContinue reading “Thoughts on Film Critic Hulk’s “Myth Of The Three Act Structure””

A Hater’s Guide to Save the Cat – Part One

Blake Snyder was, by all accounts, a nice man. He tragically passed away in 2009. I’m not here to disrespect the man. That said, this is a Hater’s guide to his book, Save the Cat, in case you ever have to quote anything about it to someone who’s taking it way too seriously. PART ONEContinue reading “A Hater’s Guide to Save the Cat – Part One”

In defense of three act structure.

The three act structure is the Coca Cola of screenwriting theories.  It states that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Its simple vagueness allows it to apply to pretty much any story.  When people say that the three act model has its flaws, they have a point; when people say that it doesn’tContinue reading “In defense of three act structure.”

A Basic Three Act Structure

FEATURES: Single protagonist, clear-cut theme, strong character arc, a happy ending. CAUTIONS: It’s not about the idea, it’s about the execution. Any idiot can fill out a formula, the people who get hired are the ones who can fill out this formula in a way that is fresh and emotionally involving. ACT ONE: Setup theContinue reading “A Basic Three Act Structure”