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The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 12 of 21

Teleplay: Five Act Structure


The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 12 of 21

Teleplay: Five Act Structure


Lesson Info

Teleplay: Five Act Structure

Let's talk about television um I want to talk about the one our um one hour teleplay is has a different structure and this is something that is open for debate and argument um how many acts does it actually have used to be strictly for act structure um but now more frequently it's five acts or sometimes it's six acts it sometimes when it's six acts is actually means it's the teaser plus five acts or the five extractor could mean a teaser plus four acts um but in any case it's not a typical three act structure and the other thing that sets it apart is for commercial television the act break is literal it's where you stop and go to commercials unlike the feature film which is runs continuously um so the act breaks five act breaks you have a five act structure you have a teaser generally speaking you would um have your inciting incident in the teaser and then your first act would be kind of like a movie's act one um and it would end with something similar to enact one plot point then you ...

would go to acts two three and four which kind of correlate to your act too in a screenplay and by the end of act four you're really kicking us into that final fifth act some shows have a tag which is the resolution separated out from the last act some don't um so the structure is different but when you go to commercial, when you write something goes to commercial, you still have to have something that is causing you to keep watching the show after the commercial break. So the act breaks are very important. They need to be, uh, some kind of a moment. That leaves something very unresolved, something that is arisen in the story. That's unresolved.

Class Description

Screenwriting classes often either lean too heavily on theory or simply study the technical approach to writing without a greater context for its use, as if the act of screenwriting exists in a vacuum – it does not. In The Screenwriters Toolkit with Jim Uhls, you’ll learn both the nuts and bolts of the craft, as well as its relationship to getting your work read and ultimately produced.

Jim’s sceenwriting credits include the modern classic “Fight Club” the feature-film "Jumper" the NBC television film "Semper Fi" and the SyFy miniseries "Spin" In this class, he’ll share lessons from his extensive experience writing for Hollywood and the small screen. He’ll teach you how to develop better scripts, get traction for your projects, and navigate the complex professional landscape of script development.

You’ll learn about screenwriting form and content, including:

  • Vocabulary and formats
  • Dialogue vs silence
  • Adapting existing works for the screen
  • Genre-writing

Jim will also share essential insights on developing a career in screenwriting. 

You’ll learn:

  • The differences between writing for television and features
  • Who to work with: agents vs managers vs lawyers
  • How to obtain and manage projects of various sizes and contexts

The Screenwriters Toolkit is a comprehensive examination of screenwriting form, content, craft, and traffic. You’ll learn how to adapt your content to the size, genre, and desired professional result of the script while also learning about the best on-ramps for aspiring writers.


Karla KL Brady

I would definitely recommend this class for first-time screenwriters and writers in general. I'm a novelist that would like to turn a couple of my stories into screen plays. I was mostly interested in the "dos and don'ts" which he supplied in a generous number. He gave a lot of great examples. I enjoyed the format with the students and he pretty much walks you through the entire process, including and especially the three-act structure which can be applicable to novel writing, too. He gave a lot of great examples. I would have liked a more extensive discussion on loglines and writing the action, but this certainly is enough to get you started. For the price, you can't beat it.


I came to this site by accident and then found some well known internet marketers here, who had already been sending me helpful emails and offers for some time, which I have used. What I like about the video contents is, that it is good old-fashioned skills and crafts development, rather than just formulaic, churn it out in big numbers advice. Whether screen writing, script writing, creative writing, news writing, etc. there is a structure and guideline for contents, order, grammar, etc., but the appeal is towards the development of one's creative side. I am normally involved in non-fiction writing, so this is a nice, creative side-kick, which no doubt will help my other work. As prolific author Isaac Asimow said, "If you want to learn to write, then you must write".


I would certainly recommend it to others, as there are some really great tips throughout the courses, across various aspects of film script writing.. That said, I would like to recommend however: - to have one version that is focused solely on film writing; eliminating the parts about teleplays and series, as those one or two did not relate to the rest of the course. - in its place, I would have loved to observe the coaching and critique on the writers film ideas, loglines, titles and such. I was very interested in knowing the do's and don'ts, what works and doesn't work, and what the proper approach is. Although he made mention of some of them in his overall content, relating them back to the writer's specific work would have been very beneficial.