An Overview Of 4-Act Story Structure by Adam Skelter

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: Can you give us an overview of your 4-act story structure?

Adam Skelter, writer, director, story artist:  One of my favorite instructors that I’ve worked with (his name is Ron Mita), he taught a class over in Valencia and he wrote S.W.A.T. and then I think he sold some stuff. He developed ROBOTS for Blue Sky or something…really good guy, very practical, great writer, very cool guy, he’s amazing for pitching as well.

He was the one who introduced me to the idea of just 24 plot points. He said literally just write down 24 numbers and just put PP (plot point, plot point, plot point) and then break it down into the first acts and then most people will say First, Second and Third but everybody divides it into The Midpoint.

Adam’s Youtube channel The Art Of Story

Now it really comes down to how do you define an act? And in reaching when I was working on the videos I was trying to come up with a good definition for act and I looked at Robert McKee, [John] Truby, [David] Trottier (a lot of the greats) and I couldn’t find a very clear specific definition of an act.

I’m ridiculously pedantic so I really tried to boil it down to this essence. I tried to be as precise as I can with the terms and definitions. For example, inciting incident. That term has always bothered me just because technically every single sequence has an inciting incident, has an incident that is inciting the next behavior.

[Blake] Snyder will refer to it as The Catalyst. A catalyst is where you take two elements, a chemical reaction that’s already going to happen and a catalyst speeds it up. So what you are saying is that the catalyst is going to take something that is inevitable and enhances it. That’s why I call it The Impetus.  An impetus is a force that moves, that moves movement which is a very specific thing that happens once in the screenplay. And that’s my terminology that I use. I think whatever metaphor helps people make sense of the story and take care of the central elements (that’s fine).

So Ron Mita’s approach was basically…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Watch the video interview on Youtube here


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