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A History of Three-Act Structure

Posted by jennine lanouette on Monday, December 24th, 2012

[This article was originally written in December, 1999.]

Incredible as it may seem, back in the early 1980s when I studied screenwriting in Columbia’s Graduate Film Program, my classmates and I had no textbooks. Our teacher Frank Daniel, a Czechoslovak refugee from communism who had studied with Pudovkin and Eisenstein in Moscow, would give us titles of playwriting manuals to read. But most of those books were out of print and hard to find.[1] So we faithfully attended class, took lots of notes and hung on his every word.

Clearly, all that has changed. Rather than a dearth, we now have too many screenwriting manuals fiercely competing to make a definitive statement as they present a confounding variety of techniques and terminology. Remarkably, though, among all this disagreement, there does exist a consistency on one point–the acceptance of the division into three acts as the fundamental structural model for the creation of screen drama. While the terms used can differ greatly, the basic shape of setup (Act I), development (Act II) and climax and resolution (Act III) remains the same.

However, despite this resounding consensus, there is a notable lack of interest in the historical precedents for this dramatic form, with the exception of an occasional reference to Aristotle’s theories, which are invariably misrepresented. This neglect of the past creates some misleading impressions, specifically that, first, the division into three acts is solely a screenwriting phenomenon and, second, that it was developed only recently by screenwriters themselves. Unfortunately, both of these perceptions are counterproductive to the further development of screenwriting as an art form.

That three-act structure might be peculiar to screenwriting alone suggests a static, self-contained form, allowing the unimaginative writer to follow its parameters in a limited and literal way. One who can see that three-act structure has evolved throughout drama history can also see that what is practiced now is, still, only a contemporary understanding. Likely, three-act structure will continue to evolve. The more contemporary screenwriters are aware that they are working at a point in time on a larger historical continuum, the freer they will be to push that point forward.

Similarly, the notion that three-act structure has only a recent history gives it an arbitrary and transitory appearance, prompting those with an iconoclastic bent to feel compelled to challenge it simply for its primacy. While the desire to question a dominant system is always a healthy impulse, and necessary for forward movement, the power of the challenge is greatest when done from a solid knowledge of the process of historical evolution, rather than out of a knee-jerk reactivity.

Contributing to this gap in a historical understanding of screenwriting is the lack of recognition it is given as an academic discipline. Scholars in cinema studies tend to focus on film as a visual medium, putting barely any emphasis on its dramatic nature. As a consequence, their sense of history reaches back only about as far as 1900. While it is certainly true that, when it comes to understanding visual communication, film has singlehandedly provided a tremendous leap forward, almost every dramatic element that we take for granted as essential for good filmmaking has its origins in the work of a playwright or theorist innovating in the theater.

So where did three-act structure come from? (Some people actually believe it was invented by Syd Field in 1978!) To answer this question, I decided to do an evolutionary study of the three-act model. I went back to the playwriting manuals Frank had urged us to read–Willam Archer’s Playmaking (1912)[2], Kenneth Rowe’s Write That Play (1939)[3]–which I managed to locate at university libraries, and then supplemented them with further research of my own. My goal was to find evidence of three-act structure’s evolution from the entirety of drama history.

Of course, as is often pointed out in the currently popular screenwriting manuals, it all begins with Aristotle’s Poetics,[4] the first playwriting manual on record. The Poetics is often taken as a definitive theoretical text, but for Aristotle it was simply a set of observations on the key elements of the most successful tragedies produced in Greece up until that point. Furthermore, its vague, disorganized and fragmentary nature has prompted scholars to speculate it was most likely written as a set of lecture notes.

Aristotle is often credited by screenwriting how-to authors with having originated three-act structure because of his observation that a tragedy must have a beginning, a middle and an end. While he was not explicit about how this should be achieved, a three-act form can be found in his identification of  Greek drama’s component parts — prologue, parados, episode, stasimon, and exodos. Prologue and parados were where the story was introduced. Episode and stasimon referred to a dramatic scene (episode) followed by a choral song (stasimon) that could be alternated as many times as necessary to fulfill the story. And exodos was where the story was finally resolved. Thus, we have a beginning, a middle and an end. Not exactly today’s three-act structure but certainly heading in that direction.

However, then came the Roman theorist Horace (65-8 B.C.) who, in his text Ars Poetica (or The Art of Poetry), took the development of drama on a major detour by creating a set of hard-and-fast rules that had an oppressive influence on playwriting for nearly 2,000 years. Aristotle had simply catalogued the prevailing practice of  prologue, parados, episode, stasimon, and exodos, but Horace declared five-act structure to be the only legitimate form of drama, a belief which dominated western theatrical practice all the way through the neo-classical period of the 16th to 18th centuries.

Indeed, in the neo-classical period, the creative evolution of drama nearly ground to a halt under the weight of restrictions requiring that a drama must all take place in one location and transpire only in the course of a single day. First promoted by the Italians in the 16th century and legislated into mandatory practice by the French in the early 17th century, these practices were misinterpretations of Aristotle’s work looked at through the filter of Horace’s dictates. The Poetics makes no mention at all of location and only one mention that “tragedy endeavors, as far as possible, to confine itself to a single revolution of the sun, or but slightly to exceed this limit.”[5] (Through a fluke of history, Shakespeare remained largely uninfluenced by the neo-classical rules; although, having had more exposure to Horace than to Aristotle, Shakespeare did faithfully write his plays in five acts.)

Clearly, these neo-classical dictates limiting time and place are antithetical to the aesthetic strengths of film. If theater had remained bound by them into the 20th century, the early screenwriters would have had a lot more inventing of the wheel to do before arriving at a form of drama that can fully utilize the benefits of action, visuals and montage.

The earliest elements that later contributed to the development of screen drama can be found in the theater’s late 18th and early 19th century process of breaking free of neo-classicism. While the Romantics, such as Goethe (1749-1832) and Schiller (1759-1805), were challenging the constraints of neo-classicism on a literary and philosophical level, popular playwrights such as Rene Pixerecourt (1773-1844), August von Kotzebue (1761-1819) and Eugene Scribe (1791-1861) were casting off official dictates of form in favor of a set of practices, arrived at through trial and error, which best pleased the general audience. Pixerecourt and Kotzebue are credited with the development of melodrama, which early silent film utilized to spectacular effect, but it was Scribe who first wowed audiences with the intensified use of action.

Dubbed the “well-made play,” Scribe’s technique actually invents nothing but instead applies all the earlier conventions of comedy and drama with greater focus and to greater effect. Typically, his plays involve complicated, fast-paced plots, full of intrigue and suspense, built on cause and effect and escalating to a high-pitched climax before resolving happily for the main character.

The scholar Stephen S. Stanton, in the introduction to his collection, Camille and Other Plays, outlines seven structural features to the well-made play. Among them are:

(1) a plot based on a secret known to the audience but withheld from certain characters . . . until its revelation in the climactic scene serves to unmask the fraudulent character and restore to good fortune the suffering hero, with whom the audience has been made to sympathize; (2) a pattern of increasingly intense action and suspense, prepared by exposition . . . ; (3) a series of ups and downs in the hero’s fortunes, caused by his conflict with an adversary; (4) the counterpunch of peripeteia [reversal of fortune] and scene a faire [the “obligatory scene” in which the secret is revealed], marking, respectively, the lowest and the highest point in the hero’s adventures . . . ; (6) a logical and credible denouement . . . .[6]

Here we start to see a rough outline of screenwriting’s three-act structure–the presentation in the first act of the sympathetic character, background exposition and setting up of the situation (in this case, a dangerous secret); in the second act, increasingly intense action and a series of ups and downs in conflict with an adversary; the low point at the end of the second act which comes from a reversal of fortune; followed by a third act climax (when the truth comes out and all is made right); which is in turn followed by a denouement in which the story is credibly resolved.

It should be noted at this point that, while the well-made plays of the 19th century were wildly successful in their time, they are by no means considered works of art. They are significant simply for their innovations in form, which later playwrights, such as Ibsen, Wilde and Shaw, were able to apply to their own works with considerable artistic effect. Early in his career, Ibsen directed some 21 plays by Scribe for the Norwegian stage. Form this intimate knowledge of Scribe’s work, Ibsen later made ample use of well-made play techniques in his own writing. Note, for example, the “secret” which plays a dominant role in A Doll’s House. Shaw’s biting satire on military glory and heroism, Arms and the Man, is a direct reworking of Scribe’s Bataille de Dames. And Wilde is said to have modeled Lady Windemere’s Fan on Scribe’s well-made plays of adultery.[7] While the artistic and thematic genius in each of these works is singular, they all benefitted considerably from the innovations in dramatic structure passed down to them by Scribe.

Despite the evident tripartite structural progression to the well-made play, Scribe still wrote his plays in the Horatian five-act divisions,[8] which brings up the question of how the word “act” is defined. The official definition of an “act” is “a unit of dramatic action consisting of several scenes,”[9] a rather vague description that makes no reference to dramatic function. By this rendering, an act is simply a segment of story delineated by the rise and the fall of the curtain. For the purposes of clarity, I will call this a “segment act.” When done well, a segment act will have at least some kind of dramatic dynamic to it, beginning in relative calm and building to a high point of interaction or suspense. But in terms of the overall structure of the play, the placing of a segment act break can have as much to do with the need for a change in the scenery or costuming as it does the plot’s progression.

The medium of film is not burdened by the raising and lowering of curtains to facilitate scene changes or signal intermissions. Consequently, in screenwriting how-to manuals act divisions are used to describe portions of the drama in which a set of specific dramatic tasks are being accomplished. As previously stated, in the first act background exposition is given and characters are introduced, in the second act is the development of complications and obstacles, and the third act presents the climax and resolution. Thus, this second definition, based on the dramatic functions being performed, can be differentiated as a “structural act.”

Throughout the 19th century, while the concept of the structural act was slowly evolving, most theater drama continued to be written in the segmented five-act form. An interesting exception to this was the French playwright Victorien Sardou (1831-1908), a disciple of Scribe who mastered and further developed the well-made play for the popular theater. Commenting on Sardou’s lavish mise en scene and gift for manipulating vast historical pageants, Stanton cites Patrie as an illustrative example. In this play, says Stanton, Sardou indulges

gaudy spectacles and melodramatic thrills, a triangle plot of guilty passion, the pathos of filial devotion, the nobility of patriotism; the whole seasoned with comic relief, punctuated with grandiose sound effects including musical motifs, smothered cries, and a thunder of massed crowds giving voice to their emotions in unison, and culminating in a turbulent death scene charged with passions of hate, love, remorse, and vengeance and involving a suicide. Indeed, Sardou in the legitimate theatre anticipated by some fifty years the historical panorama as evolved by Hollywood.[10]

This is certainly an impressive catalogue of shared characteristics with filmed melodrama. Yet, Stanton neglects to mention the similarity which, in the evolution of dramatic form, is perhaps of greatest significance. Sardou not only utilized the tripartite structural progression developed by Scribe but he actually had his curtain going up and down only three times, instead of the usual five, dividing his play into three segment acts that roughly corresponded in function to the present day three-act model.[11] This marks the first practical application of the three-act structure dramatic form.

However, there were a couple of strikes against Sardou’s three-act form that prevented it from catching on as a structural advancement. One was the epithet “Sardoodledom” bestowed upon him by Shaw as a disparagement of his superficial and sensational subject matter. But of greater impact was a text titled Technique of the Drama by Gustav Freytag (1816-1895)[12] which came out in 1863. Freytag’s text was the first modern playwriting manual to concern itself almost exclusively with developing pragmatic guidelines for the construction of effective drama as opposed to dictating arbitrary rules, promoting abstract theories or outlining preferred thematic subjects.

Many of the terms and concepts widely used in screenwriting texts these days, such as controlling idea, cause and effect and rising action, were first published in this book. Among his structural innovations, Freytag identified the point at the beginning of the story that sets the drama in motion, which he called the Erregunde Moment (or exciting force). His definition of this eventis generally analogous to what today is referred to as the point of attack, the inciting incident or the catalyst. But his greatest influence was through what has come to be known as “Freytag’s pyramid,” a graphic representation of rising and falling action in the shape of an isosceles triangle. On this graph, Freytag charts five parts to the action, with the climax occurring squarely in the middle of the drama at the highest peak of the pyramid. He carefully avoids the word “act,” with its connotation as an arbitrary segment of scenes, to focus on “what is peculiar in purpose and construction”[13] of the component parts, thereby moving towards a model based on structural functioning. Nonetheless, his five-part thinking indicates that he has not yet broken free of the five-act dictates of Horace.

He identifies the five parts as (a) introduction (which includes the entrance of the exciting force), (b) rise (in which the rising action is played out), (c) climax (the forces of rising action reach their peak), (d) return or fall (the main character’s downfall), and (e) catastrophe (the main character meets his demise). Clearly, Freytag is basing his model on classic tragedy, and indeed he uses examples from Oedipus, Antigone, King Lear, Othello and Macbeth, among others, to illustrate the five points.

Interestingly, though, he also presents his structural model as being based on a progression of three distinct crises. In his description of them, we again see an early form of the current three-act structure model:

Of these three dramatic moments, or crises, one, which indicates the beginning of the stirring action, stands between the introduction and the rise [in other words, roughly where we would place the end of the first act]; the second, the beginning of the counter-action, between the climax and the return [or partway down the descending slope, not far from where we would put the end of the second act]; the third, which must rise once more before the catastrophe, between the return and the catastrophe [apparently something like what we would call the third-act climax].[14]

It is important to keep in mind that Freytag, like Aristotle, is basing his theories on observations he has made of plays he knows. Therefore, the pyramidal picture he describes may well be the most accurate reflection of drama, particularly tragic drama, as it had developed up until that point (remember, he is writing pre-Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw and Wilde).

In 1879, Henrik Ibsen revolutionized modern drama with A Doll’s House. As Scribe had done, he synthesized almost all previous genres and techniques into a tightly structured work, but, unlike Scribe, he added layers of thematic significance, social relevance, character psychology, and visual poetry not previously seen. The first person to champion Ibsen’s work to the English-speaking world was the Scottish theorist William Archer (1856-1924), who had discovered the playwright while spending time in Norway. It was in Archer’s 1912 instructional text Play-making, that the discussion of act divisions in dramatic structure started to evolve away from Freytag’s five-part pyramid and towards a three-act model.

As in Freytag, Archer’s book discusses many of the same dramatic terms and techniques that are utilized today–point of attack, preparation, obstacle, crisis, climax and denouement. But he goes beyond Freytag in a nascent effort to promote a definition of act divisions based on structure rather than segmentation.

It is a grave error to suppose that the act is a mere division of convenience, imposed by the limited power of attention of the human mind, or by the need of the human body for occasional refreshment. A play with a well-marked, well-balanced act-structure is a higher artistic organism than a play with no act-structure, just as a vertebrate animal is higher than a mollusc. In every crisis of real life (unless it be so short as to be a mere incident) there is a rhythm of rise, progress, culmination and solution. We are not always, perhaps not often, conscious of these stages; but that is only because we do not reflect upon our experiences while they are passing, or map them out in memory when they are past.[15]

Interestingly, he uses for his justification the natural progression of a real life crisis, grounding his emerging model of dramatic structure in the rhythms of human nature rather than an imposed set of arbitrary rules. He then goes on to make an initial connection between the rhythms of the crises and the act structure.

It is the business of the dramatist to analyze the crises with which he deals, and to present them to us in their rhythm of growth, culmination, solution. To this end the act-division is–not, perhaps, essential, since the rhythm may be marked even in a one-act play–but certainly of enormous and invaluable convenience.[16]

While he makes the bold claim that acts should be determined by the rhythms of growth, culmination and solution, he is also still laboring under the definition of “act” as that which transpires between one rise and fall of the curtain (as in a one-act play); hence, the odd ambivalence in his statement that the act division is enormous and invaluable but not essential. Today we have no such ambivalence since, for us, “the rhythm of growth, culmination, solution,” or three-act structure, can apply as well to a ten-minute short film as it does to a feature. More than likely, it will also apply to a “one-act” play.

However, in the next paragraph, Archer tilts solidly in favor of the structural act.

It was doubtless the necessity for marking this rhythm that Aristotle had in mind when he said that a dramatic action must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Taken in its simplicity, this principle would indicate the three-act division as the ideal scheme for a play [italics mine].[17]

Eureka! The first published mention of the three-act division as more structurally viable than the five-act form. Archer backs up his claim by naming 14 plays of his time which, in structural terms, fall into three acts and concludes by saying “many old plays which are nominally in five acts really fall into a triple rhythm and might better have been divided into three.”

Unfortunately, though, he then backpedals:

Alexandrian precept, handed on by Horace, gave to the five-act division a purely arbitrary sanction, which induced playwrights to mask the natural rhythm of their themes beneath this artificial one. But in truth the three-act division ought no more to be elevated into an absolute rule than the five-act division.[18]

While Archer wisely provides a cautionary note against absolute rules, he also seems to be saying that if we now recognize that the five-act division was arbitrary, then for all we know the three-act division is equally arbitrary, as if he still doesn’t fully trust the notion of a structural model based on dramatic function as opposed to arbitrary segmentation. As he elaborates, he backpedals further:

The playwright should not let himself be constrained by custom to force his theme into the arbitrary mould of a stated number of acts. Three acts is a good number, four acts is a good number, there is no positive objection to five acts.[19]

Suddenly, whereas on the previous page the three-act division had been a “triple rhythm” of “growth, culmination, solution” fulfilling Aristotle’s dictate that a drama must have a beginning, a middle and an end, now it has been re-reduced to an “arbitrary mould” (sic) carrying no more significance than the five-act form. Such waffling only reveals how entrenched the Horatian five-act model still was in 1912.

In 1936, John Howard Lawson (1895-1977) wrote Theory and Technique of Playwriting, which he revised in 1949 as Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting[20], making it the first manual to take screenwriting seriously as a dramatic form. (Previous screenwriting manuals, with titles such as How to Write a Photoplay, focused more on film technique than dramatic technique.) Lawson was a playwright who worked with the Group Theater in the 1920s and then headed for Hollywood where he was at the center of the struggle to form a writer’s union. He was a committed communist (which may explain why his book did not appear on the recommended reading list of communist refugee Frank Daniel) who applied his political philosophy to his theories of drama by advocating the notion of drama as social conflict in which the conscious will is exerted.

Lawson’s book includes a fascinating and comprehensive survey of the evolution of dramatic theory up until his time. But his own theories of dramatic structure, which definitely move the form forward a few steps from Archer, are at the same time permeated with his political philosophy. Therefore, much wading through his social agenda is necessary to get to his core ideas on drama, which are nonetheless significant and worthwhile. Whereas Freytag delineated five parts and three crises, and Archer spoke of “rhythms of growth, culmination and solution,” Lawson uses the metaphor of “cycles of action” to show the patterns and functions within dramatic structure. Using as an example the play Yellow Jack, by Sidney Howard, about attempts by the American military to stop a Yellow Fever epidemic in turn of the century Cuba, Lawson says, “what happens is really a cycle of activity which may be expressed as follows: a decision to follow a certain course of action, tension developed in fulfilling the decision, an unexpected triumph, and a new complication which requires another decision on a higher plane.”[21] Lawson then describes a three-cycle pattern in Yellow Jack in which the first cycle comprises the “decision to follow a certain course of action,” the second cycle represents the “tension developed in fulfilling the decision” and the “unexpected triumph,” and the third cycle takes in the “new complication which requires another decision on a higher plane.” Yet he, like Archer, resists identifying this “three-cycle” pattern as a fundamental dramatic structure.

It must not be supposed that the pattern of Yellow Jack can be imitated as an arbitrary formula. But the principle which underlies the pattern is basic, and can be applied in all cases. The material arranges itself in certain cycles. If we examine each of the cycles, we find that each one is a small replica of the construction of a play, involving exposition, rising action, clash, and climax.[22]

Indeed, it is these four components on which Lawson builds his model of dramatic structure. Later, he outlines four “divisions” in a play’s structure:

A play may contain any number of lesser cycles of action, but these can invariably be grouped in four divisions; since the rising action is the longest of the divisions and includes a larger number of sub-divisions, the movement of the play is somewhat as follows:

AbcdefGH

A is the exposition; b c d e f are the cycles of the rising action; G is the obligatory scene; H is the climax. A may contain two or more cycles of action. G and H are more concentrated, but may also include several cycles.[23]

Curiously, if this AbcdefGH scheme were to be reduced to its basic differentiation of upper case and lower case letters, once again we see being described a three-part structure. However, again like Archer and his three rhythms, Lawson isn’t willing to commit to the three cycles he clearly outlines in his Yellow Jack analysis, or the three parts he indicates in his graphic scheme. One also senses that Lawson is trying to get away from the limitations of the word “act” as a mere segment of action, and instead is struggling to find a more structurally based model. But, for whatever reason, he is more comfortable with words like “cycles” and “divisions” than he is with trying to redefine an act in structural terms.

A commitment to three-act structure can finally be found in Kenneth Rowe’s Write That Play, published in 1939. After all of Archer’s waffling and Lawson’s schematizing, Rowe says simply, “In recent years, by no rule, but in general practice, three [acts] has come more and more to be the standard.”[24] While his elaboration of this point still engages in the argument against Horatian dictates, he does it much more confidently than his predecessors:

Three movements are clearly more basic to the fundamental structure of a dramatic action than Horace’s five. There is an attack, a crisis, and a resolution. . . . There is a natural symmetry and balance with adequate flexibility inherent in the three-act form, with the first act introductory and springing the attack, the second act developing the action to the crisis, and the third act for the resolution.[25]

With this paragraph, Horace and his five acts, once and for all, have been put to rest. Ironically, it also brings dramatic theory back full circle to the philosophy expressed by Aristotle when he said a tragedy should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Why, then, is it so important to review the intervening history if Aristotle was right after all? Because Aristotle did not define or delineate the structural function of beginning, middle and end, and how they work together to form an aesthetic whole. He simply described the isolated characteristics as he observed them. It was the work of the intervening dramatists and theorists that has brought us a much greater understanding of how the component parts of drama connect to push the story forward to a satisfying resolution. Screenwriters of the 20th century owe a great debt to stage dramatists from the past 25 centuries, not only for their artistic achievements but also for their innovations in form. Screenwriters of the 21st century now have the opportunity to build on those structural models, pushing them forward into as-yet-unknown forms of potentially far greater complexity.

Notes


[1] The one playwriting manual still in print and in popular use by screenwriters at the time, Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing, was not on Frank’s list because he objected to the notion, promoted by Egri, that one must have a premise before one begins writing.

[2] Playmaking: A Manual of Craftsmanship, William Archer (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1934).

[3] Write That Play, Kenneth Thorpe Rowe (New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1939).

[4] There are, of course, many translations of The Poetics. The most widely used is the S.H. Butcher translation from 1932 which was republished in 1961 with commentary by Francis Fergusson (Aristotle’s Poetics, intro. by Francis Fergusson, New York: Hill and Wang, 1961). The Fergusson text seems to be the most widely referenced in the screenwriting manuals, although I have also found references to the Richard Janko, Lane Cooper and Stephen Halliwell translations.

[5] Aristotle’s Poetics, Francis Fergusson, ed.(New York: Hill and Wang, 1961), 60.

[6] Camille and Other Plays,  Stephen S. Stanton, ed. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1957), xii.

[7] Camille and Other Plays, xxxvi-xxxix.

[8] See “A Glass of Water” in Camille and Other Plays.

[9] Mirriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition, (Springfield, MA: Mirriam Webster, Inc., 1997).

[10] Camille and Other Plays, xxiii-xxiv.

[11] See “A Scrap of Paper” in Camille and Other Plays.

[12] Freytag’s Technique of the Drama, trans. Elias J. MacEwan (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1968).

[13] Freytag’s Technique of the Drama, 115.

[14]  Freytag’s Technique of the Drama, 115.

[15] Playmaking, 136-137.

[16] Playmaking, 137.

[17] Playmaking, 137.

[18] Playmaking, 138.

[19] Playmaking, 139.

[20] Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting, John Howard Lawson (New York: G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 1949).

[21] Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting, p. 225.

[22]  Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting, p. 226.

[23] Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting, p. 246.

[24] Write That Play, 163.

[25] Write That Play, 163-164.

 

Bibliography

Archer, William. Playmaking: A Manual of Craftsmanship. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1934.

Fergusson, Francis. Aristotle’s Poetics. New York: Hill and Wang, 1961.

MacEwan, Elias J., trans. Freytag’s Technique of the Drama. New York: Benjamin Blom, 1968.

Lawson, John Howard. Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting. New York: G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 1949.

Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Springfield, MA: Miriam-Webster, Inc., 1997.

The New York Public Library Performing Arts Desk Reference. New York: The Stonesong Press, 1994.

Rowe, Kenneth Thorpe. Write That Play. New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1939.

Stanton, Stephen S., ed. Camille and Other Plays. New York: Hill and Wang, 1957.