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Plotting
1 min read

Writing a novel is hard, which is why a lot of writers like to outline their stories prior to beginning the writing process. While there are lots of plotting methods out there, one of the most popular planning techniques is the three-act story structure.

The three-act structure is essentially a writing recipe for strategically planning set-ups, conflicts, and resolutions. The three-act structure has three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end.

Thee-Act Structure Diagram

An example of the three-act structure.

Act One

The first act serves to introduce your world and characters to the reader. In this section, you’re going to want to show the hero of the story in their ordinary world.

Act One Sections:

  • The beginning
  • The inciting incident
  • Second thoughts
  • Climax of act one

Act Two

Act two is all about journey. In this act, your hero will learn and develop the tools that they will need to survive the third act.

Act Two Sections:

  • Obstacle
  • Obstacle
  • Midpoint (a big twist)
  • Obstacle
  • Disaster
  • Crisis
  • Climax of act two

Act Three

Act three is where all of the obstacles and issues the character has encountered are resolved, or, not resolved. Either way, act three is when loose ends should be tied up and the reader should feel some finality in the story.

Act Three Sections:

  • Climax of act three
  • Obstacles
  • Denouement (wrap-up)
  • End

Even though the three-act structure is a great technique to use in your writing, it’s important to remember that it is only a suggestion. Your story is unique and if you feel an event makes sense to happen earlier or later on in the plot then go with that.

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