The Nine Act Structure Of Screenwriting


Here is a nine act screenplay structure paradigm that the story coach uses:

ACT 0 – Decide what works for your characters? What doesn’t? What is the context of the story? Define your main character’s emotional intelligence as they navigate a world in flux they don’t fully understand. This is the pre-story before you start writing. How did the main character get to the place that the story begins?

ACT 1 – Establish the opening image of the universe the main characters are stepping into. Who are we encountering and what matters to them right now? What are their concerns, conflicts and mode of action?

ACT 2 – There is a change to the natural order of the main character’s schema. Something bad happens (inciting incident) and their energy drops. Something valuable it taken away. The main character experience’s fear in learning to deal with the unfamiliar, so initial resistance ensues. What does your main character need to get them through the challenge? They either don’t know how or don’t want to act.

ACT 3 – We don’t normally step into change, so our energy levels drop even more. Pain is our resistance to change and growth. We are creatures of habit no matter how damaging our behavior is. The main character experiences 3 bumps and a final push before they hit the critical velocity required for them to catapult them into their journey.

ACT 4 – A further push to overcome further resistance and obstacles.

ACT 5 – The main character gets lost. They chose the right goal for the wrong reason or the wrong goal for the right reason. They must decide what really matters and get back on track.

ACT 6 – The main character must redefine their goal or strategy. They need to ask the right questions at the right time. Nothing has meaning or power outside the context of the main character’s goal.

ACT 7 – The character now knows what they need to do. They’ve made the right choice to proceed with the unfamiliar with confidence but without all the necessary skills and knowledge.

ACT 8 – The climax. The crescendo. The fledgling new character emerges and progresses into their new world awaiting their new adventure.

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