What Are Some Structural Paradigms in Screenwriting?

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Unlock the energy of storytelling with the structural paradigms in screenwriting. Learn how to craft compelling narratives using essential elements consisting of 3-act shape, plot points, and character arcs. Dive into the art of constructing a solid foundation on your screenplay, making sure it captivates audiences and sticks out inside the aggressive global of movie and television

You may include structural components into your writing in a variety of ways.

Within the screenwriting community, the term “structure” is often used interchangeably, but it has several stricter meanings.

Essentially, it’s the arrangement of the beats you add to a tale to elicit strong feelings from the viewer. And there are other approaches to achieving this objective.

Knowing the structural principles of screenwriting is essential whether you’re a seasoned practitioner, an aspiring writer, or just a movie buff asking questions about what goes on behind the scenes of your favourite movies.

These paradigms serve as the framework for the full narrative body of a screenplay and are more than just instructions for building a tale.

Let’s look at a couple and how they work in narrative.

Themes and Structural paradigms in Screenwriting

Everyone seems to have a go-to screenplay structure when they first start writing. Although I really like our approach and layout, there are a ton of different possibilities available.

In screenwriting, structural paradigms are frameworks that direct the creation and arrangement of a script. These paradigms provide a framework for organizing stories such that they are coherent, captivating, and appealing to readers.

Among the most popular paradigms are the following:

The most traditional and often utilized form is probably the three-act structure. The narrative is split into three sections:

  • Act 1 (Setup): Describes the major conflict or issue, the location, and the characters.
  • The longest part of the story, Act 2 (Confrontation), is when the protagonist encounters difficulties.
  • The primary conflict is resolved in Act 3(resolution), which is the climax and resolution.

Examples include The Godfather

  • Act 1: Michael Corleone is depicted as an outsider when the Corleone family is introduced.
  • Act 2: Michael’s growth and development inside the family company via a number of disputes and difficulties.
  • Act 3: Michael completes his transition from outsider to mafia boss by seizing control of the family.

Hero’s Journey (Monomyth): Made popular by Joseph Campbell, this narrative device is frequently used in fantasy, adventure, and mythological tales. It goes through phases such as being called to adventure, answering that call, finding a mentor, passing the threshold, going through hardships, receiving the greatest blessing, and returning to the mundane world.

Star Wars: A New Hope, as an example

Luke Skywalker’s path closely resembles the Hero’s path: from his mundane life on Tatooine, to the call to adventure, meeting his mentor Obi-Wan, overcoming obstacles, accomplishing his objective, and coming back altered.

Blake Snyder came up with the Save the Cat Beat Sheet, a narrative framework that consists of fifteen essential “beats” or story points that need to appear at particular places in the script.

The initial shot, the theme expressed, the build-up, the catalyst, the discussion, the break into two, the B tale, the fun and games, the halfway point, the approaching bad guys, the dark night of the soul, the conclusion, and the closing picture are some of these beats.

For example, Legally blonde

This movie faithfully adheres to the Beat Sheet, starting with the first picture of Elle Woods’ life, her breakup with her lover, the discussion about attending Harvard, and ending with her victory in court.

The script is divided into many sequences using the sequence technique, each of which has its own mini-narrative arc. Usually including eight to ten scenes, each sequence has a distinct purpose within the larger narrative.

Pulp Fiction, as an example

With its non-linear plot, Quentin Tarantino’s picture is a shining illustration of the Sequence Approach. Every scene contributes to the broader plot and has its own narrative arc.

Five-Act Structure: Shakespearean plays have long utilized the five-act framework, which is equally applicable to screenwriting. Exposition, increasing action, climax, dropping action, and conclusion are all included.

For example, Hamlet (Movie Adaptations)

Shakespearean adaptations frequently stick to the play’s five-act format, which is divided into distinct sections for exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Seven-Act Structure: This builds on the three-act paradigm by dissecting the second act into more componentized parts, each of which presents unique obstacles and opportunities for character growth.

For example, The Return of the King in The Lord of the Rings

The story of this epic may be broken down into seven acts, each of which focuses on a different stage of the trip and the difficulties the protagonists encounter.

The Fichtean Curve: This emphasizes building suspense and drama by having rising action that builds to a peak, then falling action that leads to resolution.

Example: Jaws

The movie follows the Fichtean Curve, mounting to the peak of facing the shark and ending with its defeat. It begins with the suspense of shark attacks.

Depending on the story’s kind, genre, and author, each of these paradigms offers a unique narrative technique that may be customized.

Remember that they are tools, not laws, regardless of whether you find the more sophisticated Sequence Approach or the conventional Three-Act Structure appealing. They act as a guide to assist you in combining your story elements into a cohesive whole that appeals to your target audience.

In Summary

Timelines with structure may be created by organizing tales according to Field’s Paradigm. Act 1 tells the tale; Act 2 is a conflict; and Act 3 is the resolve. For the first time in the history of screenwriting, Syd presented the Paradigm in Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting in 1979. There is always structure.

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