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3 Act Screenplay Structure

By Expert Author: Adam Lewis

One highly successful method of structuring a screenplay is the 3 act structure. The 3 act screenplay structure is broken down into three acts or main parts, which are used to incite, inform, and resolve the drama in the screenplay. The three parts to the 3 act structure are as follows:
1: Setup
2: Confrontation
3: Resolution
Each part of the three acts abides by its own set of rules and guidelines and strengthening the foundation of the screenplay to form a well-paced and dramatic story.
Act 1: The Setup
Act one of the 3 act screenplay structure should engage and captivate your audience from the very start. Each of your characters should be introduced in a way that your audience understands and associates themselves with the characters. Your setup should be exciting. When screenwriting, consider how the intended audience will perceive what has been written. At some point in our lives, we have all skimmed through the channels on television in search of something great to watch. As we cruise from channel to channel, we give each program less than five minutes to get viewers interested enough to continue watching. Screenwriters should keep the same mind frame when writing act 1. Act two comes to an end when the screenwriter has introduced the main plot of the story.
Act 2: The Confrontation
Act two of the of the 3 act screenplay structure is the part where the writer must build on what has been presented in act 1 in order to keep it moving and gaining in intensity. A subplot is sometimes introduced in act 2 to make the aforementioned possible.
Working almost like a bridge, the subplot is a smaller layer of the story, which relates to act one. Subplots can be used to bridge gaps, cause shock, and illustrate relationships and contrasts Since act 2 is the longest, it is critical to move your plot forward to give your audience something to worry about. Include a few cliff hangers and provide them just enough answers at a time to have them yearning to know more all the way to the ending.
Act 3: The Resolution
Usually the shortest of the three acts in the 3 act screenplay structure, the resolution, the final act, brings the characters face-to-face with their adversary. They either solve and overcome the conflict or are defeated. Act 3 is your chance to tie up any loose end you may have from the previous two acts, leaving your story questions answered and thus ending your screenplay.

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