The three-act structure is a narrative format in which stories are divided into three parts: Act One, Act Two, and Act Three, or a beginning, middle, and end. With the publication of his book, Screenplay, in 1978, screenwriter Syd Field made this classic narrative technique distinctive for screenwriters. He argued that every screenplay should be structured like a story with three acts, even if you are only telling one side of a story.
Acts serve two important functions in scripts: they separate major scenes that carry significant information or reveal character development from each other, and they provide direction to the audience on where the story is going. An act can be thought of as a scene within a scene. There are many ways to divide up an act. Some writers prefer to have one long scene followed by another short scene, while others split it up with several shorter scenes. Whatever method you choose, make sure you keep the tension high throughout the act so the audience doesn't feel cheated at the end.
Here are some other examples of acts in popular films:
In "Act I", Gus asks Carl to kill him, then tells his girlfriend Ellen why he did it. This part of the script takes place in a single location over a period of time.
"Act II" begins when Carl carries out Gus's request. This part of the script also takes place in a single location but over a longer period of time.
The three-act structure is a narrative fiction model that separates a tale into three parts (acts), which are sometimes referred to as the Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution. The act structure is very common in movies but not as common in television.
The setup introduces the characters and gives the reader or viewer insight into their conflict. The writer then brings the characters together in the confrontation scene, which reveals more about their relationship. Finally, in the resolution scene, the character(s) work through their issues so they can move on with their lives.
Act I - Act II - Act III: Setup - Confrontation - Resolution
These are the basic ingredients of any story. Every story needs a beginning, middle, and end. To make these elements clear and simple, many writers break up each element into three parts: Act I, Act II, and Act III.
For example, let's take a look at a short story called "The Lottery." This short story has three acts. Here is how the author divides them up: Act I - Scene 1. Arrival at lottery headquarters. Act II - Scenes 2-4. Running the numbers. Act III - Conclusion. Mr. White goes home.
What Exactly Is the Three-Act Structure? A three-act structure separates a tale into three different portions, each of which is anchored by one or more plot elements that drive the overall action. A comprehensive plot framework evolves throughout the course of the three acts. Each act presents a crisis that forces the protagonist to make a decision about what direction he or she wants his or her life to take.
The first act is usually called the setup act because it sets up the circumstances leading to the crisis. The second act resolves the crisis and reveals the consequences for the protagonist. The third act previews future events while also revealing any new obstacles that may arise for our hero/heroine.
A story cannot proceed without a conflict between two parties who want something different. We need only look at our own lives for examples: I want my car to run smoothly with no problems reported by my friends, but I also want it to be affordable to own and drive. The manufacturer of my car has determined how they can make money off of me (the consumer) by creating a product that meets my needs while also making sure they don't lose money on every vehicle they sell. They do this by introducing models that are popular with a wide range of people (thus increasing their sales volume), but also producing vehicles that are inexpensive yet still capable of getting good gas mileage (or else nobody would buy them).