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  • Writer's pictureDanny Stack

Pixar Poker Structure

As my previous site was viciously hacked and never recovered, some of my blog posts have disappeared from the ether. But I have most backed up, well the ones I consider the most useful ones anyway. And so, here's my Pixar Poker Structure post, which someone has requested as they could no longer find it online.


I once saw a tweet by Emma Coats, a former Pixar exec, which likened the classic 3-act structure to a poker game. Ever since I glimpsed the tweet, it's resonated with me and helped with my day-to-day screenwriting needs. It goes something like this:

- the inciting incident is when you, the protagonist, are dealt a hand.

- the end of act one is when you decide to bet.

- the midpoint is when you have to go all in (point of no return/stakes & jeopardy).

- the end of act two is when you seemingly lose.

- the final twist/denouement is when you finally manage to win.

Pretty neat, right? I particularly like the 'go all in' analogy, as midpoints can be tricky beasts to say the least. But what I really love about this structural breakdown is that it makes you focus on the protagonist and their story objective. It enables narrative clarity, and is particularly useful for commercial/genre scripts or TV pitches.

Remember, structure is your friend, there to help you when you want to get started or even when you get stuck. If you rail against conventional structural methods, fine, but there's no denying that there's always something to be gained from the use of classic storytelling techniques.

For a full breakdown on all the various structure methods that are out there, check out this great link.

Use what works for you.


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