TWO ACTS, THREE ACTS, FOUR ACTS, FIVE - Complications Ensue
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Friday, October 28, 2005

I'd like to hear a little more from readers about this move to five act structure. (Especially since WriterAction doesn't let members of sister guilds participate. Not very neighborly, eh?)

How do you experience a five act story differently?

Are there more "soft outs" (act breaks that aren't cliffhangers or heavy emotional moments?

Does it feel like a longer story?

What are the flavors of the different outs?

2 Comments:

At this point I'm more of a watcher rather than a writer of television, so here's my limited view on the subject:

I don't much notice the extra act break. Soft outs are no big deal to me, so long as they're handled appropriately. What's really been bothering me lately are what I call 'forced breaks', where the show just suddenly cuts to a commercial break while someone is talking or about to talk (one of the actors onscreen, I mean), while they're walking down a hallway or chasing a bad guy into an alley. It looks like someone at master control just said to themselves, "It's 8:23 pm. Time for a commercial break." Then they hit a switch without even seeing what's playing on the TV screen at that exact moment, in order to force a series of commercials into the show. That's definitely one of my pet peeves, and I'm seeing it more and more.

By Blogger Kelly J. Compeau, at 12:38 PM  

I noticed the extra act break, but I tend to look for that kind of stuff. I didn't note an increase in the number of soft outs, but in that case I think it helps that most of the 5-6 act shows I watch tend to have multiple storylines going on, any of which could lead to a cliffhanger in time for an act break. When you have that many acts, it's also not unusual for any one of the various plots to be missing from at least one of the acts, since the later acts tend to be so short.

By Blogger Jeff, at 12:49 PM  

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