Dramatica Definition: Act

Act • [Structural Term] • The largest sequential increments by which the progress of a story is measured • an Act is a noticeable shift or division in the dramatic flow of a story which is created by the convergence of dynamics pertaining to Character, Theme, and Plot. These dynamics are represented in Dramatica by a sequential progression through different categories of subject matter called Types. Each of the four throughlines has four different Types of subject matter. For example, one throughline’s Types might be Learning, Understanding, Doing, and Obtaining. If we look at each Type as a signpost along a road, then Learning would describe where that throughline’s story began and Obtaining where it ended. Between the four signposts are three journeys. In our example, a journey from Learning to Understanding, Understanding to Doing, and Doing to Obtaining. In a story, an author usually designs the structure by setting up the signposts. An audience experiences the story by taking the journey. So, in a sense, and author works with a four act (four signpost) structure, and an audience perceives a three act (three journey) structure. Since both co-exist, the meaning of the term “Act” changes depending upon how one is coming to a story.