The Three Act Structure

Aristotle stated that dramas have beginning, a middle, and an end. Really cool since the Greeks invented drama. Screenwriters get much more detailed with requirements of what goes into three acts of a movie.

Andrew Mcqueen
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For most stories they are split in to three parts. The first, second, and third act. The three act structure has twists, turns, and specific moments in which certain things should be unfolding at certain times. Moreover, it's an organizational tool to help build your story.

**Aristotle stated that dramas have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Really cool since the Greeks invented drama. Screenwriters get much more detailed with requirements of what goes into three acts of a movie. The key takeaway is understanding that one event in the story goes into another event which unifies actions and creates the semblance of a story.

For a general idea of the three act structure, let's take a look at the essential parts, shall we? Here's a breakdown on Thunderbolts #26 from 1999 entitled "Lockdown."

First act-Introduction of the cast of characters.

Second act-Prison riot; Rhino breaks free.

Third act-MACH 1 stops riot. Then his actions are found out by the CSA (Commission on Superhuman Activities).

Neat, yeah? 

*Comics' legend Peter David pointed out that Aristotle's simple observations of beginning, middle, and end have been codified, institutionalized, or mummified. Editors, producers, etc, will be analyzing your story frequently based on whether they see the beats of the three act structure present. It will be helpful to know what they're looking for so you can be sure to accommodate them.

My Writing Challenge colleague Emily Moore will agree with the notion that we're dealing with a structure, not a formula. A formula results in a sameness that makes everything seem overly familiar and predictable. And she'll mention how films like Candyman hinges on the three act structure which will differentiate itself from other motion pictures.

Now we go in-depth into the three act structure. For research, I did an analysis of the Gundam: The 08th MS Team episode "Gundams in the Jungle."

First Act-Introduction of the team. Here in the first act of the episode, we meet the 08th Mobile Suit team (Ensign Shiro Amada, Michel Ninorich, Karen Joshua, Terry Sanders, and Eledore Massis). They are on their way to base for their first mission under ensign Shiro's command. Being introduced also is Commander Kojima who briefs the team on a Zeon base built somewhere in the jungle.

First act turning point-After a brief scrimmage with Zeon forces in the jungle, Shiro gets separated from the rest of the unit by going after the damaged Zaku drone.

Second act-The middle of the story. Ensign Shiro is hot on the trail of the Zaku but he ends up getting lost in the jungle (For the record, I say it's his damn fault for running off like that). Then he stumbles upon fresh water coming from a waterfall, where he encounters Kiki Rosita of the guerrila resistance. 

Second act turning point-Elsewhere from the action, Aina Sahalin is having tea & biscuits with her brother, the rear admiral Ginias Sahalin. They're discussing her brother's "dream" would soon become a reality, hinting of a weapon that will tip the balance of power in favor of the Zeon.

Third act-It's round two of Shiro vs the Zaku. 

Climax-Shiro unloads everything at the Zaku, defeating it. With their mission over, the MS team returns to base. Shrio sleeping in the cockpit while his Gundam was on autopilot ended the episode on a lighter note.

Whether you're writing a script for a movie or a comic, most stories in between those genres, hinge on the three act structure. 

Happy Creations!

Sources: *Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels with Peter David pg. 98

**Alyssa Maio. "What is the Three Act Structure in Film? No Formulas Necessary." https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/three-act-structure/

 

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