The Three Act Structure of Screenplay


Syd Field was the mastermind behind the three-act structure. He was the author of play script and also the Screen Writer’s book, so had come up with the paradigm that most screenplays nowadays follow.

The paradigm is very important as its what holds screenplays together. Referring back to Fields model, the screenplays follow a THREE-ACT STRUCTURE, which means the play script is sectioned into 3 parts: SETUP, CONFRONTATION, AND DETERMINATION.

Seems tough?  Believe me, it’s not. You just have to hire a screenplay writer from THESCREENPLAYWRITERS.COM and he will explain and write these 3 Acts with élan.

Plot Point

The Plot Point, in keeping with Field, the three-acts are separated by two plot points. A plot point, typically known as a reversal, is a event that drives the plot in an exceedingly new direction, leading into a brand new act of the script. The script experts have engineered on Field’s theory by stating that plot point II, leads into Act II, which is the moment once the hero takes on the matter.

Act 1 –Setup

This section is the first quarter and introduces the screenplay .

Events in Act I:

Dramatic premise- What the story’s about?

Dramatic situation- The circumstances surrounding the action.

Exposition- The part of a story that introduces the characters and the main ones, shows some of their interrelationships, and places them within a time and place.

Conflicts- shows any minor disputes some of the characters may have.

Location- Main location in where the screenplay will carry on from.

Enigma- A question that is not instantly answered therefore draws an audience into a text.

Connotation- Way in which meaning is created .

Act 2-Confrontation

This section involves the next two quarters of the screenplay .

Events in Act II:

First Culmination–a point just before the halfway point of the film where the main character seems close to achieving their goal/objective. Then, everything falls apart, leading to the midpoint.

Midpoint–a point roughly halfway through the film where the main character reaches his/her lowest point and seems furthest from achieving the dramatic need or objective.

Obstacles–In the second act, the main character encounters obstacle after obstacle that prevent them from achieving their dramatic need.

Unresolvement- further difficulties in overcoming the obstacle.

Act 3 –Resolution

This section is the final quarter of the whole screenplay.

Events in Act III:

Climax (Second Culmination)–The point at which the plot reaches its maximum tension and the forces in antagonism confront each other at a height of physical or emotional action.

Denouement–A time of tranquil at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns.

Narrative Closure- This means that the film is coming to an end and that everything has finally been resolved.

Therefore, THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE represents the screenplay. It shows how the protagonist gets from the beginning of the narrative to the end, showing any obstacles that they have overcome.

Sounds confusing? Again, just believe me, you find a screenwriter and he will write these scenes which will then seem simple to you.


These sections are like breakfast, lunch and dinner for you if you find a screenwriter.

Structure-What is Plot?

An arrangement of events to achieve a particular effect.


ACT 1 – Something Happens-Establishes the characters and situation- SET UP.

Act 2- The characters undergo change- Conflict- OBSTACLES VS GOAL.

Act 3- A situation or a set of relationships undergoes development and usually some kind of resolution, though some films are more ‘open’ in their endings. Not everything has to be neatly tied up at the end- Resolution- CLIMAX.


Strong opening.

Is it visual?

Set up a mystery/problem to be solved .

Make sure there is a dilemma.

Build towards the first act/commercial break .

Make sure you have a hook to keep viewers watching.

ACT 1-

How will you open at a place that creates a hook?

Themes introduced.

Is there a problem?

What takes us into act 2?

ACT 2-

Are there plenty of internal & external obstacles?

Does it have a sense of build?

Crisis taking us into act 3.


Redundant scenes .

Plots without tension. This happens when story is resolved too soon, too many explanations etc.

Scenes where characters behave inconsistently or make idiotic decisions.

Unsympathetic characters.

Scenes with lots of incidents, but no story development.


Pay Off – Goal achieved or failed.

What happens in the end?

Sense of resolution.

Themes covered.

All points covered. You now just have to hire a screenplay writer who will make every scene count.