Three Act Structure

Three Act Structure (a.k.a standard structure) is the classical, proven form of storytelling in film. Form, not formula. It does not dictate your story choices, only where you might place the major plot points.

This structure is based on Aristotle’s three act dramatic structure: beginning, middle, and end. Also known as Three Act Restorative Structure, as the story begins with an order that is thrown into chaos, and by the end a new restoration of order is reached.

My estimate is that 95% of modern movies fit into a three-act structure, including most foreign films and seemingly more experimental cinema such as Paranormal Activity, Borat, Being John Malkovich or The Blair Witch Project.

Personally, I break the three acts into four, separating act two into 2A and 2B.

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