Another View Act Progressions

Some two thousand years ago, Aristotle proposed that every functional plot should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Since that time, this notion has evolved into a widely held view that there should be three Acts in a complete story. Act one sets up the dramatic potentials. Act two plays these potentials against each other. Act three describes how it all turned out.

At first, a three act progression might seem in conflict with Dramatica's four act view. As we shall see, however, the two actually go hand in hand.

The illustration above shows how a plot that covers four different Acts will automatically generate three different transitions as the subject matter shifts from one concern to the next. In a sense, we might think of a throughline's plot as a road.

At the beginning of the road is the point of departure: City A. At the end of the road is the destination: City D. Along the way are two other cities, B and C. The first leg of the journey begins at City A and ends at City B. The second leg begins at B and ends at C. The final journey begins at City C and ends at the destination, City D.

At each city is a signpost that gives its name. The four signposts in a throughline's plot are the names of the Types. The order in which they will occur in the plot determines where they fall along the road. Between the four signposts are three journeys, each of which can be described as traveling from one signpost to the next.

Returning to an earlier example, Signposts A, B, C, and D might be Learning, Understanding, Doing, and Obtaining. The Three journeys in this plot would then be Learning -> Understanding, Understanding -> Doing, and Doing -> Obtaining. With four signposts and three journeys, each throughline's plot actually has seven different Progressive Appreciations that are required for that perspective to be complete.

City "A"

City'B"

City't"

City'D"

City "A"

City'B"

City't"

City'D"

When Aristotle saw a beginning, middle and end, he was seeing Signpost A, all three journeys lumped together, and

Signpost D. When successive generations of writers evolved a three act structure, it became very difficult to determine, "What happens in Act 2?" as all three journeys and two of the signposts were simply blended into "the middle". By adopting a Four Act structure which coincides with three dynamic acts, the true nature of a throughline's plot is far easier to understand and construct.

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