Guest Post by Eric BeltranIn our previous article, we gave you some tips to help you get started on your script. Hopefully, that provided some aid if you were stuck in a rut or just needed a little push to get started.
Now, we would like to give you just a little bit more food for thought, all in the hopes that it opens some doors for you, allowing you to find your own niche and create something uniquely effective with your next film or video production.
The 3-act structure is often the first thing we learn when it comes to storytelling. In act one, we bring the audience into the world of the script, introduce the main characters, set up the catalyst, and blah blah blah….
I’m not going to go into that any further. It essentially breaks down to the need for a beginning, middle, and end.
While this can make things simpler, writing your script in three acts can also be overwhelming, especially when sitting down for the typically long act two.
That’s why it may be helpful to break the script down even further, into eight sequences.
Smaller pieces can make things more manageable
Each sequence runs for about ten to fifteen minutes, or pages, and each also has its own respective beginning, middle, and end.
They are independent and can each hold their own weight as a shorter story, but their purpose is to provide a supportive addition to the overall structure of the script.
The eight sequences are nothing new. It’s a technique that was being practiced long ago when movies were shown on separate reels. The idea was to have one sequence per reel in order to ease the transition while the movie played.
It offers more than just practicality though. The breakdown also presents a blueprint for rhythm and pace, allowing the writer to form peaks and valleys in intensity throughout the story.
So, let’s look into each sequence and see if they can help you complete a properly structured, engaging script for your next film or video production.
The First Sequence: The Catalyst
In the first sequence, we introduce the main characters and establish the world of the story that we are going to tell.
This sequence ends with the catalyst, the inciting incident. The catalyst will be something that changes the status quo of the world that you have created.
This change will propel the protagonist into the next sequence and plant the seeds for the overall plot.
The Second Sequence: Decision Time
Naturally, in the second sequence, you will be dealing with the changes that have occurred in the world as a result of the catalyst, and the protagonist’s struggles with these changes.
The protagonist usually fights or resists the inevitable change and struggles to make a choice about what to do. Something usually occurs that compels the protagonist to act and dive into the plot.
Once the protagonist makes his or her decision on what to do and the central conflict is established, then the second sequence ends. The end of the first act is the point of no return for the protagonist, no matter the nature of the film or video production.
The Third Sequence: The Roadblocks Are Laid Out
Now that your protagonist has made his or her choice, it is time to up the stakes. In this sequence, we start setting up the roadblocks for the protagonist.
This will be the protagonist’s first real attempt to try to fix the problem, so these obstacles should be relatively severe and immediately detrimental to the progress of the protagonist.
Also, this usually marks as good a time as any to reveal any additional expositional information that hasn’t had a chance to pop its head up yet.
The Fourth Sequence: Things Get Worse
The problem continues to worsen despite the efforts of the protagonist. This also marks where the midpoint of the script will be.
The roadblock presented here should make things appear even more difficult for the protagonist. Also, many feel that the midpoint should reflect the resolution of your script by presenting a scaled-down version of the ending’s events.
Therefore, if the protagonist in your film or video production is going to have a successful ending and will ultimately win rather than die tragically, then the hero should overcome the obstacle in this sequence and get an early win, foreshadowing the ending along the way.
The Fifth Sequence: Things Still Bad, Subplots Take the Reins
When we referred to that long second act earlier, this was the point in the script we were talking about. Often, stories tend to lag at this point, and there’s a serious risk of losing the audience.
That’s why the subplots in your story are so crucial. This sequence is where the subplots of the film or video production can pick up the slack.
You still want to keep moving forward, but this also presents a point in which the protagonist can be given some kind of break before the final showdown to come.
By the end of this sequence, the protagonist will come up with a new plan of attack or have newfound confidence in the existing one.
The Sixth Sequence: It Gets As Bad As It Can Get
This is where everything you’ve been building in your story culminates. You return to your central conflict and the obstacles are at their most challenging yet.
The protagonist puts the new or improved plan into action and, though some series of events, finds that a solution will be even harder than imagined, seemingly impossible even.
At the end of this sequence, the protagonist has officially reached the turning point.
The Seventh Sequence: Somehow, Some Way, the Hero Wins
In this sequence, the climax is saw through and, somehow, against all odds, the hero finds a way to resolve the central conflict.
Everything typically moves much faster at this point compared with the rest of the story as we push forward, full-force, towards the resolution.
This is also where, commonly, you see a false resolution. This is when the story could end, it may seem it should, yet it does not. The show must go on. Also, a slight new twist is sometimes presented to the audience here.
The Eighth Sequence: The Ride Off into the Sunset…or Not
This is where the major action of your story has all already come to an end. It’s the resolution of the script. The journey for your protagonist must come to a satisfactory conclusion, one way or another.
That does not mean that it has to have a happy ending like riding off into the sunset, but only that it must have a conclusion that will tie everything together. If there was an additional twist presented in the last sequence, the hero should resolve that now as well.
Remember, these sequences aren’t mandatory for your next film or video production, but they are undeniably helpful. They provide a structure, a framework, on which you can build your own story for your next film or video production.
What you insert into this formula is entirely up to you, but if you stick to this framework, you should have a nice balance of peaks and valleys in intensity, keeping the audience immersed throughout.
KVibe Productions is a full-service video production company. Whether it’s a product video production, a corporate video, or a commercial production, KVibe offers the total package of multimedia services from development through distribution.