If you don’t know what Kishōtenketsu is, it is basically a type of narrative structure used mostly in China and Japan and consisting of four parts:

  • Ki (起?): Topic toss or introduction, what characters appear, era, and other important information for understanding the setting of the story.
  • Shō (承?): Receives or follows on from the introduction and leads to the twist in the story. Major changes do not occur.
  • Ten (転?): Turn or twist to another, new or unknown topic. This is the crux of the story, which is also referred to as the 'yama' (ヤマ?) or climax. It has the biggest twist in the story.
  • Ketsu (結?): Resultant, also referred to as the 'ochi' (落ち?) or ending, it wraps up the story by bringing it to its conclusion.

It started out in Chinese poetry as a four-line composition such as this example by classic poet Du Mu:

Spring of the South:

  • Thousands miles of birds' singing, light green along the Yangtze river;
  • Ponds and hills circling the village with flags in the soothing
  • wind; Amid the four hundred and eighty temples of the South dynasty;
  • How many terraces are in the misty cold rains?

I think that this type of narrative structure could work well if employed in film format, especially for a science fiction piece. So I wonder, have there ever been efforts to use Kishōtenketsu for a film story, especially a science fiction film? Would this be a viable approach or is there anything that speaks against employing this narrative structure in the medium of film?

(And while I'm not saying that the three act structure is evil and should be gotten rid of (it is a tool that has been used to great effect with films such as Alien, Die Hard, Jaws, Star Wars, Casablanca, every superhero film ever made etc), I feel that it has been used too strictly and as such most Hollywood films follow it and for me this has resulted in films feeling the same. I feel that screen writers might profit from experiementing with different ways of storytelling.)

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    This question seems to be too broad and asking for opinions which is not really how we operate. I suggest checking out the Tour to get a better idea of how to ask and answer questions here. – Meat Trademark Mar 25 '14 at 20:57
  • While this question isn't that uninteresting and has quite some potential (at least after I finally understood what you're actually talking about), it is in its current form rather speculative and worded a bit subjectively. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 25 '14 at 21:03
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    I'd like to see this one played out – DustinDavis Mar 25 '14 at 23:25
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    Sorry. Still seems too broad and asking for opinions. There is no rule on "viable narrative structure" for science fiction films. If I answered "Yes." That's too short and would be closed. I'm not going to plot a 4-act structure, nor am I going to list films that don't follow the 3-act structure. This seems like an easy "Yes" while being close to a no-win scenario without writing a thesis. That said, I don't dislike the question, but this does not seem to fall under the aegis of our guidelines. Apologies to the OP. Don't be discouraged Duncan. I recently had a question shut down myself. – Meat Trademark Mar 26 '14 at 17:43
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    Why would it NOT be viable? And how are we supposed to answer it? Sci-fi is supposed to push boundaries. Why not a 2-act structure or a 5-act? Here's a link to someone's article about 3-act and 4-act structures using 2 well-known examples. While the question is [on hold] maybe the OP can find some solace here. – Meat Trademark Mar 26 '14 at 18:20

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