The Three Act Structure

Most screenplays are built upon a three act structure, but this method can also be used to outline a novel.

The three acts are the set up, the confrontation, and the resolution. The set up includes the exposition, the inciting incident, and the first major plot point. The confrontation includes the rising action, the midpoint of the whole story, and the second major plot point. The resolution includes the pre-climax, the climax, and the denouement. 

The three act structure includes all the necessary elements for a story.

The set up is the introduction where the reader gets to know the characters and setting. The inciting incident is the problem that arises which comes to it’s most crucial moment in the story during the climax, this is the conflict, first major plot point or plot arch. The confrontation is when the character rises to the occasion and chooses their battle. The falling action is when it feels the most hopeless for the character, like he’s not going to be able to win, this is the second major plot point. Then, the resolution is when the character does win and all is well. The resolution can either have a lot of action in the climax or it can be a calm climax, depending on the story.

The resolution is usually a happy ending, but don’t let the usual stop you from telling the story you were meant to tell. It could be a catastrophe or a cliffhanger for the next book in the series, or a revelation that the character has that changes their outlook of the situation.

Dawn Zauner – Writing Expert
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