Modified 3-Act Structure

In a previous post, I provided an overview of the three act structure for writing. A variation of this structure is to split Act 2 – the middle – in half, resulting in Act 2A and Act 2B.

An effective overview of this model is the work of Syd Field, author of Screenplay: The foundations of screenwriting and other screenwriting books.

In addition to the division of Act 2, Fields added a few other elements, including renaming the acts. He referred to Act 2A as “confrontation begins” and Act 2B as “confrontation escalates.” Between Act 2A and Act 2B is the midpoint, where the hero of the story experiences significant setbacks.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Act 1 – Set-up. Peter Rabbit lived with his mother and siblings. Mrs. Rabbit warned the rabbits not to enter Mr. McGregor’s garden, because Mr. Rabbit was killed there.

Transition A – Point of No Return. As soon as Mrs. Rabbit left home, Peter entered the forbidden garden through the gate.

Act 2A – Confrontation Begins. As Peter wandered around the garden, he encountered Mr. McGregor. Peter ran around trying to find the gate.

Midpoint. “Peter gave himself up for lost, and shed big tears.”

Act 2B – Confrontation Escalates. Mr. McGregor tried to catch Peter, but Peter ran and hid in a potting shed. Mr. McGregor almost caught him in a second attempt as Peter jumped through a small window back into the garden.

Transition B – Crisis. Peter located the gate while sitting on a wheelbarrow, but Mr. McGregor blocked the path between the wheelbarrow and the gate.

Act 3 – Resolution. Peter ran as fast as he could through the garden, under the gate and all the way home. Though safely home, Peter was ill as a result of his misadventures, and Mrs. Rabbit sent him straight to bed without any supper.

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