Mona Liebowitch

Nov 183 min read

Novel plotting

The three-act structure is a method of storytelling with well-defined phases. There is the beginning, the middle and the end.
This is the most classic way to develop a story that will make sense in the minds of your readers.
The second act is usually much longer than the others, and can be treated as two sections divided by a climactic middle point. This template covers the basics, but feel free to add as much detail as you like.

Act I — The beginning

Opening Scene

Set the tone, the general atmosphere and introduce one or more characters.


Write one or more scenes that introduce the world in which the secondary characters are developing, and that hint at changes to come.

The incident

The unexpected moment that turns the character's world upside down and kicks off the storyline.

The action begins

How do the characters react to the triggering incident? What choice does the protagonist have to make?

Act II, Part 1 — The Middle

The turning point

How does the main character decide to deal with the problem? What is at stake?

Overcoming problems

As the story progresses, troubles pile up and decisions get harder to make. Ask yourself what keeps the characters going in this vicious cycle and write it down. Your readers need to understand the turmoil in the protagonists' minds. At this point in the story, the main character usually still has his or her initial enthusiasm.

The turning point

A surprise event that destroys the plan and raises the stakes, often after a temporary triumph.

Act II, Part 2 — After the Reversal

More trouble

After this turning point, we should feel that the problems are piling up, the main character can't handle it anymore, he has a knife to his throat. We feel the first signs of weakness.

The disaster

It's the last straw. The protagonist(s) are trapped, facing uncertainty, a great moment of loneliness or an impossible decision. At this point, the readers think that the hero of the story will not make it.

The second turning point

A new hope is born. Usually thanks to an innovative idea from one of the characters. This glimmer of hope prepares for the final act and revives the story.

Act III — The resolution

The plan

This is usually where it all falls apart. We feel hope being reborn and the plot unraveling. The pieces of the puzzle finally seem to fit together and the stakes reach new heights.

The outcome

The protagonist faces the antagonist or the main obstacle and is victorious... or fails.

The end

After this moment of great tension, the main character or the world in which he or she lives has changed. The page turns and you either decide to conclude with this ending or you use the final scene to set up the next part of your story.

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