​The Jungle Book and its Plot Structure: Part 3: The Eight Sequence Structure in Screenwriting

In my last two posts, I’ve explained and showed how, in the Jungle Book movie (2016), both the three act and six stage story structures work perfectly. But I think the screenwriters must’ve used the eight sequence method because that works too. Even if you aren’t a screenwriter, this will work if you plan to write a fast paced story, especially for genres like fantasy, thriller or SciFi. 

Now for the eight sequence part. I’ve learned about this first from amazing Tomi Adeyemi and then from E.M.Welsh  Though it is basically the three act structure only parted into detailed smaller parts and mostly used in screenplays, you can use it too to structure your plot. Here it is (I’m quoting E.M.Welsh here because she explained it easily)

01) Sequence One: Status Quo & Inciting Incident

As you can guess from the title, it refers to the inciting incident plus the glimpse into the protagonist’s usual life before the inciting incident. We know where we can put the Jungle Book in this sequence, Mowgli’s life before and during Shere Khan’s arrival and threat.

02) Sequence Two: Predicament and Lock-in:

This will be the first plot point, or in screenwriting, the predicament and lock-in. In E.M.Welsh’s words, “The predicament here is the main conflict and the lock-in is when the character is past the point of no return.”

In Mowgli’s case, the decision to leave the wolves. 

03) Sequence Three: First Obstacle and Raising the Stakes:

In this part, the protagonist, in his journey, faces his first obstacle that soon raises the stakes, to his knowledge or not. According to E.M.Welsh, 

“the third sequence is the place where you’ll introduce another conflict to raise the stakes and make things more difficult for your character.”

In Mowgli’s case, it is tad long. His first obstacle is shown as both Shere Khan and Kaa, also in this part, stakes are raised when Akela is killed and no one is there to protect the wolves pack. Shere Khan even subtly threatens Raksha that he’ll kill her cubs if he doesn’t get Mowgli. 

04) Sequence Four: First Culmination/Midpoint:

In this part, the protagonist witnesses/experiences something that changes them and make them proactive from being reactive. According to E.M.Welsh, 

“Usually this is where the character has their “turn” and realizes something that changes them. They go from passive to active.”

In Mowgli, that’d be meeting Baloo and using his skills as a human to full potential. He also meets Bagheera again who forbids him to stay in the jungle and follow him to the humans village. Not very action packed but emotionally it is. 

05) Sequence Five: Subplot and Rising Action:

This part helps you explore the subplot and try to connect it to the main plot. In Mowgli, the subplot was the red flower and its destruction and uses by humans. In E.M.Welsh’s words, 

“To avoid that (second act sag), they (Script Lab) recommend using this sequence to explore subplot conflicts, perhaps making things get even worse so that they can contribute to the tension in the story, setting you up for success in the next sequence.”

For Mowgli, he gets kidnapped by the Bandar Log and faces their King Louie who offers/threatens the invention of the red flower from him. 

06) Sequence Six: Main Culmination: 

The description of this part confused me. E.M.Welsh said that this part needed to have all the stakes raised, highest tension and the darkest moment. But after carefully reading each words, I realized, it was actually what we novelists call the dark night of the soul. 

In the Jungle Book, that’d be Mowgli’s learning about Shere Khan’s killing of Akela for him, his mother and siblings lives are in danger and how he must avenge Akela’s death. He runs to the human village and grabs the fire, accidentally and unknowingly setting part if the jugnle on fire and momentarily losing allies. 

07) Sequence Seven: New Tension and Twist:

I’m going to quote E.M.Welsh here because she explained it amazingly:

“The new tension referred to here is often the new goal or new need the character understands they’ve always had and need to satisfy. Usually the hero has achieved what they have always wanted only to realize that’s not what makes them happy, and so quickly within the third act you must introduce any new exposition or information the audience needs to know. Additionally, the twist or big reveal often falls here, another good reason for a goal shift.”

For Mowgli, he realizes that just rallying the other animals to his side and kicking Shere Khan out won’t do. The tiger would kill them all. So he must kill the tiger. Not only that, he must do it the way a human normally might do. So he uses his tricks and the fire to kill Shere Khan and rescue the jungle. He also uses the elephants to put off the fire. 

08) Sequence Eight: The Resolution:

This part we know what happens. I’ve explained it above so no worries. 

Wow! That was a long, long post. I hope you can now understand how brilliantly the Jungle Book movie used all these structures (maybe not directly) to plot the story. 

Not only the story feels authentic, the first time I watched it, I was truly invested in it. I wanted to see how Mowgli defeats Shere Khan, despite knowing there will be a happy ending. And the characters? They were mostly dynamic, almost all of the main ones having something to learn in the end. Mowgli learns that he is both a human and a member of the wolf pack. Baloo learns how to care for others than himself, and to climb. Even Shere Khan learns something (or not), that never fight with a human who can hold the red flower without fear. 

So that’s it for now. This was my first post. I hope you learnt at least something. I’m not an expert in this. So pardon any mistakes I made. And do comment if you want to point out any mistake. No worries. 

​The Jungle Book and its Plot Structure Part 02: Using Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Structure

In the last post  I’d divided the Jungle Book (2016) into three act story structure. If you don’t use that and instead use Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Structure, here it is. 

​In the Six Stage Structure, the stages can be easily fit into the three act as well. The six stages are:

Stage 01: The Inciting Incident (0%-15%) where something occurs and interrupts the normal life of the protagonist. In Mowgli’s case, arrival of Shere Khan and his threat. 

Stage 02: The First Plot Point (15%-25%) where the protagonist undertakes a journey towards his new life. In Mowgli’s case, it’d be deciding to leave the wolves’ pack and heading towards the human’s village. 

Stage 03: The Midpoint (25%-50%) where the protagonist meets several obstacles and gets to the midpoint reversal, where, according to James Scott Bell  the protagonists look into themselves and find out who they truly are. In Mowgli’s case, it starts with getting attacked by Shere Khan to the part where he gets to use his “human” tricks to both help Baloo store honey for winter and rescue from an elephant cub from a pit. Unknowingly, he has reached his potential as a human cub. 

Stage 04: The Dark Night of the Soul (50%-75%) where the protagonist’s initial plan fails, according to amazing Tomi Adeyemi, and he must plan something new to defeat the antagonist, since all else is failing. In Mowgli’s case, that’d be the part where he was kidnapped by the Bandar Log and King Louie reveals to him that Akela was killed by Shere Khan because of Mowgli. Mowgli realizes that even if he does go to the human’s village, the wolves won’t be safe. So this plan won’t work and he must work out something. But he hasn’t any fur, claw, teeth to defeat Shere Khan, as he points out later. So Mowgli plans to defeat him through fire, known as the red flower. But that also doesn’t work for he has accidentally and unknowingly set part of the jungle on fire and has lost his allies who fear seeing him with fire, thus fear and distrusts him. He is left all alone to face Shere Khan.

Stage 05: The Climax (75%-99%) where the protagonist faces off the antagonist and battle begins. In case of Mowgli, like a true human, he sets a trap to defeat Shere Khan. The foolish tiger meets his death and Mowgli, with the help of the elephants and his tricks, puts off the fire and saves the jungle from both the tyrannical tiger and the fire, earning trust from and his place among the animals. 

Stage 06: The Resolution (99%- 100%) where the protagonist has met his goal and saved the day. He lives happily with his allies and his newfound abilities. In case of Mowgli, that’d be living with the wolves, Bagheera and Baloo and in peace. 

When it comes to understanding how the three act structure and the six stage structure work parallel to each other, here it is.

Act one= Stage one + stage two,

Act two= Stage three + stage four

Act three= Stage five + stage six 

Easy peesy, right?

In the next post  I’ll divide the same movie into the eight sequence structure. Thanks again for stopping by. 

​The Jungle Book and its Plot Structure Part 01: The Three Act Structure

Okay, so this is my first time writing a writing tips post. After reading a lot of posts about plot structure, I finally comprehended how it works, whether it’s the traditional three act structure, or Michael Hauge’s famous Six Stage Structure, or the Eight Sequence Structure used for screenwriting (and maybe in novel writing too). And as experiment, this will be my first time applying those structures on one of 2016’s critically acclaimed movies, The Jungle Book. 

I’ve watched the movie three times on TV, first time to enjoy it as a movie, and the other two times to divide it into these structures. I may be wrong in the dividing parts. If I am, let me know in the comments section and I’ll take notes. 

First up, the traditional three act structure:

Act 01: Inciting Incident and First Plot Point:

Act one usually shows us the protagonist’s life in normal and how, though they are happy, something is lacking in their lives. Then the inciting incident occurs and everything changes. Act one ends with the protagonist going on a journey (physically or emotionally) to a new place. Usually act one ends on 25% in novels and in 30 minutes marking in the movies/screenplays.

Example: In The Jungle Book, the protagonist, Mowgli’s life with the wolves is shown. He competes with them in a race and loses because he isn’t permitted to use his “human” tricks. Then the peace rock shows up and again he uses “human” trick to get water for himself, only to get scolded by the wolf pack leader, Akela, that the jungle isn’t a place for these tricks. 

Then the inciting incident occurs. Shere Khan arrives and catches Mowgli with the wolves. Because of the peace rock, he threatens to kill Mowgli afterwards along with the wolves if they don’t hand him over. So the wolves argue, making Mowgli decide to leave the jungle with Bagheera and go live with the humans. 

Act 02: Incidents Centering the Midpoint:

In this part, the largest of the three, the journey is shown in the protagonist’s life. They go through multiple setbacks and obstacles to finally mould into the person they need to be to overcome their obstacles and reach their goals. 

In Mowgli’s case, it was his identity. He identifies himself as a wolf but feels like a parish due to his “human” tricks. This part also brings midpoint reversal, where the protagonist gets a glimpse of who he really is, according to James Scott Bell. 

In Mowgli’s case, it occurred after meeting Baloo and finding opportunities and encouragements he needed to exercise and expand his “human” tricks. 

In act two, another important incident occurs called the Dark Night of the Soul. In this part, the protagonist has lost all hopes and must find a way, insane or not, to get to his goal. In Mowgli’s case, it was finding out that Akela died because of him and now the wolves’ lives are endangered only for him. Even if he leaves the jungle and lives with the humans, Shere Khan won’t leave the wolves alone. So he runs to the human’s village and decides to use the red flower to scare away Shere Khan. Only to find himself with no allies and setting part of the jungle on fire. So he now journeys to…

Act 03: The Climax and Resolution:

In this part, the protagonist, with his allies and his newly achieved skills/plans, faces the antagonist/antagonistic force. When a battleground, the allies first face off with the antagonist/antagonistic force or its allies. Battle ensues before the main antagonist and the protagonist face off. 

After the battle, mostly the protagonist wins and the life he has afterwards for growing into the person he needed to be is shown. 

In Mowgli’s case, to show everyone he isn’t like other humans, he put the fire off. His allies trust in him and they face Shere Khan. This is where Bagheera advises Mowgli, like a true mentor, to fight Shere Khan like a human, not as a wolf. Mowgli runs to the aflamed part of the jungle and devices a plan to defeat Shere Khan. Foolishly, Shere Khan walks into the red flower trap and dies. 

In the resolution, Mowgli is using his tricks successfully to win race against both Bagheera and the wolves. Raksha is crowned the leader of the pack and Mowgli is living happily with everyone. 

In the next post  I’ll show how the same movie is divided into Michael Hauge’s Six Stages Structure, as well as the Eight Sequence Structure in screenwriting.