Three Act Structure

Act 1

  • Hook: An event that gets your readers involved in both plot and story.
  • Backstory: Introduces your protagonist and the situation–it’s both plot and story.
  • Trigger: An intense plot event that propels your protagonist into crisis.

Act 2

  • Crisis: A story moment when your protagonist is overcome by her flaw/flaws.
  • Struggle: Your protagonist struggles against ever-increasing obstacles (plot) with deeper despair (story) after each setback.
  • Epiphany: A story moment when your protagonist realizes her flaw and decides to change (unless this is a tragedy).

Act 3

  • Plan: Your protagonist, as a result of the epiphany, can now devise a plan (plot).
  • Climax: Your protagonist confronts the antagonist, who is defeated (unless this is a tragedy) in plot-heavy action.
  • Ending: The plot and story conflicts are resolved.

I think this hand-out pretty much sums it up. It was provided in an online course I took through Udemy. I love the simplicity in the way that Steve Alcorn lays it out. He has a great ‘Novel Writing Workshop’. You should consider checking him out.

As a matter of fact, there are a lot of great writing courses on Udemy for under twenty dollars.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Three Act Structure

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