• 3 ACT Structure (ACT I)
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    • 3 ACT Structure (ACT I)
      21/01/2017

      Before you start writing your screenplay it's important to understand the way a screenplay is set up. Without understanding the basic structures it's easy to end up with a failing screenplay. There are certain rules you should follow to write a succesfull screenplay. Let it be said that these rules aren't written in stone.

      Compare it with getting your driver license. You might be able to drive a car from a to b without a license, but you will run into certain difficulties with law inforcements or end up in situations where you just don't know how to react, because you don't know the rules.

      You will not get your license if you don't follow the specific rules which were setup for the exam, but after earing your license you'll notice that you will brake these rules, to some extend, in more than one situation, simply because the situation requires you to.

      The first structure to understand is the 3 ACT screenplay structure. Study it well before writing anything.

       


      The 3 ACT screenplay structure is the core of screenwriting, it's your framework and the almighty glue of the screenplay. These three parts, often literally taking place in different worlds - physically and/or figuratively - can work independently of each other, yet when connected, they build a solid whole.

      Act One is The Set-Up

      Usually the story really begins at the moment when the first character faces the difficulty that he or she has to solve, and it better be a clear difficulty, and he better realize that he must do something.

      Dramatic form means action, and action brings tension. So the awareness of the tension, and the clarification of what the nature of your tension is, helps to build the whole script.

      More sources about The Setup:

      Cinematic Storytelling - Act One: The Setup

       


       

      ACT One: Essential Elements

      Tone
      Very quickly you want to establish the tone of the script: is it a serious film, a comedy, a fantasy, a spoof? Let people know right away that it is okay to laugh, to cry, to dream, etc.

      Theme
      You will also want to establish the theme of the film - what message are you trying to convey: “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, “The underdog triumphs”, “Good versus evil”.

      World of the story
      As the story begins, you will introduce the world of the story - where does it take place? What is different and interesting to this world? What are the rules of this place?

      Character Introductions
      At the same time, you will introduce the principle characters to the audience. Be specific and original. Let us know their age, how they dress, walk, talk. Give them a scene in which they stand out from the others. Let the audience know these people are special.

      Protagonist Weakness
      The main character’s weakness(s) must be clear so that the later obstacles can attack that weakness in the second act.

      Inciting Incident
      The inciting incident (or point of attack) is the moment when the dramatic conflict announces itself. It’s the first perception of the predicament to come, and usually, a moment that is very visual.

      Main Tension
      And this predicament sets up the main tension around which the story will be built: Will they fall in love? Will they rob the bank? Will they escape alive? Will they do all three?

      Objective
      A character’s objective or goal is what drives him. This should be very specific, very clear. How badly does he/she want something and what are the lengths he/she is willing to go to get it.

      Lock-in
      The first act concludes once the main character is locked into the predicament, propelling him/her forward on a new quest trying to accomplish a specific goal. Now the reader/audience knows the character, the predicament, and the objective, so everything else is about the future.

      Also watch: 3 Act story structure and
      3 Act Screenplay Structure - Screenwriting Tips & Myths


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