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.