well you're in your little room and you're working on something good welcome to the anatomy of chaos where we delve into the art of story this video is a study and story structure and outlining in four acts in part one I talked about establishing the spine of the story by identifying the dramatic question in part two I'll do a breakdown of the way each act in sequence drive the central drama the dramatic question on its own rarely delivers a powerful emotional impact until we tie it to a point of view the main character she is the proxy for the audience she stands in for us gets us to ask if we would handle the conflict in the same way the better we identify with the main character the more we emotionally invest in the outcome of the dramatic question we begin to want things for them this is what the storyteller wants to achieve in act one all dove into character dynamics in a separate video but keep in mind the function of story structure is to help us explore the depths of character there's strengths and weaknesses in the extremes drama is the art of creating extreme scenarios that expose a challenge and transform our emotional worldview act one sets the stage for those scenarios act one is where we meet the character and learn the context of the following events we see the character in their element we learn the way they normally cope with problems which often reveals a flaw or something missing in their lives this is also where we get a peek into their values what's important to them one thing to keep in mind for the first acts even though the character isn't usually engaged in the main conflict of the story they should be pursuing some objective in every scene many stories suffer from expositional first acts often the writer has failed to introduce conflict resorting only to explain who the character is the first act is an opportunity to show what is meaningful to the main character we learn a lot about people by the way they solve problems it also serves as a kind of guided tour to the rules of the world the main character inhabits if they're a high schooler we see the group dynamic if they're an astronaut we see the way they function in their environment if they're a hooligan we see their daily routine just as we're beginning to get a sense of who we're dealing with suddenly the world is thrown out of balance this is the impetus the event that propels the character into turmoil this can come in two forms it is an introduction of either a threat or an opportunity often this is the bad news of the story it's the introduction of the problem the character needs to solve to get what they want earth is threatened with extinction a meteor is on its way a family will lose their home there's a witch in the woods they let an alien on the ship but it can also be an opportunity that throws their world out of balance discovering a bag of cash a new job offer the location of the Ark of the Covenant revealing a bit of hidden genius an experience that changes the way the character sees the world whether a threat or an opportunity the impetus presents a problem the main character must solve to achieve their goal this plot point forces the main character out of their comfort zone and compels them to evaluate their situation it completes the first sequence once the impetus has been introduced the main character must decide how they're going to respond to the problem this sequence is focused on establishing the stakes the stakes are the consequences of the choice the main character will have to make what they will lose or gain the better the audience understands what's at stake the more they can emotionally invest in the outcome every story is a bet the character is forced to gamble with the consequences of their choices if an audience disengages from a story it's usually because they fail to connect with the main character or the stakes are not clear we lay the groundwork of presenting a compelling character in sequence one then drive home the stays in sequence two act one ends when the main character takes her first steps to attack the problem introduced in the impetus the dramatic question is posed when she crosses the threshold into the second act will the main character achieve the goal this is when the character and barks in the quest and enters the land of act two a lot of writers described a second act as a wide lonely desert the vast expanse waiting to be populated with set pieces distractions and plot aggressions until we arrive at the final act but this fails to recognize the reason we're going on the adventure in the first place to follow the highs and lows of the character to throw ourselves into the emotional roller coaster of the story the second act is in a desert it's an obstacle course it's a minefield wired with traps and turns in part one I mentioned that an act is composed of a discrete strategy this is why I work in 4x structure each act reaches a climax or culminates with some major turning point act 2 is usually a steady climb up the hill of success the character usually feels they're drawing closer to their objective in each sequence this is when they experience sudden success or they fall in love when they join forces each conflict that come across appears to be resolved and take them smoothly toward their goal this act usually shows a lot of the strengths of the main character the primary objective is almost within their grasp but suddenly reality rears its ugly head and all the successes are revealed to be an illusion for the first time they see what they thought was a mountain as little more than a Foothill what they thought was the zenith is dwarfed by the real mountain ahead of them the midpoint is all about disillusionment every trick every tactic suddenly reveals itself to be not enough this is when neo meets the Oracle but realizes he's not the one the Amity beaches are open but Brodie almost loses his son in the pond when Indiana Jones finds the Ark but is left to die in the Well of Souls when ET phones home but Elliott realizes he'll lose his friend when Tom Regan tells Leo he's sleeping with Verna but Leo trounces him when we meet Everett's wife and realize the journey might have had different motives this sends us tumbling down the mountain toward the low point in act 3 if act 2 is proactive act 3 is reactive this is where the consequences of all the actions the character took an act 2 slammed them against the rock act 3 is frantic and scrambled it should break the characters will to whatever strength good intentions or nobility has gotten the character through his story have all betrayed him here she is broken he has lost all hope his character flaw has sabotaged him he has arrived at the low point he lies in the dark gutter at the base staring up at mount climax knowing there's nothing left in him to go after it this is when Brodie sees the shark for the first time in mutters we're gonna need a bigger boat this is when et dies in quarantine home-tree is destroyed this is when Joel says goodbye to Clementine and his memory of hers erased when Master Oogway passes away leaving Shifu and Po filled with doubt when Michael Dorsey is trapped in a contract to play Dorothy Michaels indefinitely Act two and three are designed to show the full spectrum of the characters strengths and weaknesses Act four is usually about transformation wallowing there in the low point broken in half forces the character to see a secret path they hadn't been able to see often to do the very thing their flaw would have prevented them from doing up to this point this is the moment of enlightenment that comes from the broken soul that changes the way we see the world suddenly they form a clear extremely risky plan this is when the main character crosses into act 4 all stories are about solving problems we read and watch stories to find some nugget of emotional truth act 4 is all about embracing that truth and facing it head-on the stakes should be staring the audience right in the face like a charging bull a good story gradually ratchets up tension with moments of release tension is drawing vital needs into crisis the fourth act should feel the weight of the crisis at its most dramatic its most extreme this is where all the wants have been replaced by needs all fears are faced all lies are revealed and every choice has led to the single point of climax at the heart of the climax lies the sacred jewel meaning for the entire story this is the refiners fire that burns away the dross and reveals the brutal truths for which we sacrificed everything to discover the final sequence is the new world this is where we see how the character or the world has changed how she solves problems having new perspective a new view of the world we see the character living life free of their flaw or having adapted in an unexpected way this is the celebration and condemnation of all the choices that led to the climax there are a lot of brilliant stories that cut the final sequence leaving it to be implicit choosing to lead the audience with the impact of the climax again it depends on the needs of the story you might have noticed I skipped over the first landmark the hook I often come up with a hook after I've plotted out the rest of the outline the hook is the overture from the story where we establish the themes and tone to be explored through the conflict its first priority is to grab the audience's attention and draw them into the world it also foreshadowed the problem the character will face the more sophisticated stories weave the theme into the hook this is why I usually wait until I've outlined the story before I plot the hook I like to wrap my brain around the themes before I develop a strong opening with the hook I tried to find some way to jar the audience present an immediate conflict that works on the instincts the hook is like the title sometimes is the first idea have her story sometimes it doesn't come until after written everything else the benefit of using an outline is you don't have to work through your story in a linear progression if I have strong ideas I'll plug them into the sequences as they arrive often it helps me contain the story and trim the fat before I've wasted a lot of word mileage or wandered off in a tangent outlining is still drawing from your intuition it's still tapping into your dreams the only difference is you tend to have a better view of the meaning of the story here are some of the weaknesses of outlining stories can be too predictable and lapse into cliches a cliche is a device that had significant power when it was introduced but repetition has removed it from a meaningful context making it little more than a reference to its original execution unconvincing character choices character choices can be shoehorned into irrational decisions to make them go where the story needs rather than where the character would plausibly choose when we are too aware of a writer conveniently placing opportunities or resolutions in a story we stop emotionally investing in them these weaknesses are the downfalls that writing from the gut tries to avoid all this means is you need to be aware of these weaknesses and take action to revise the story here are some ways to resolve the weaknesses make a list of alternative choices the character could make especially if you've fallen in love with the ones you've already chosen you might be surprised where it'll take you to get a second pair of eyes pitch to honest friends writers beta readers and peers this will help you gauge its believability I can't stress the importance of a second pair of eyes enough right from the gut forget your outline and write the scene without knowing where it will take you by putting aside the outline and jumping into the skin of your main character you can liberate their choices from the expectations of the story structure the intention of outlining is dissecting your dream and deciding what will resonate with an audience some people feel this breaks the spell of intuition when they're writing from the gut if that's the case don't use it an outline is a map some hikers see the mountain and charge up the face trusting their instincts others meet with fellow hiker plotting their journey rigorously it depends if you want to spend your time hacking at branches wading across rivers and scaling up unexpected cliffs or you need to get to the top of the mountain before sundown and never hurts to be prepared for both this completes part 2 of story structure and outlining in four acts in my next episode we'll delve into entertainment and the role of plays in writing feel free to go to my website Lost Tribe entertainment calm to download my four act diagram thanks for watching anatomy of chaos