As I told you in my previous post, five reasons why the three-act structure is for you (see it here), Act Three corresponds with the end of your novel. This is where the story must come to a satisfactory conclusion. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy one but it must bring the reader satisfaction.
But what do you need in Act Three? Here are four things that are essential:
The protagonist rises up from her lowest point:
By the end of Act two, our hero is at her lowest point. In act three we must see her rise up again and prepare to meet the enemy one last time. This is pre-battle; a time to collect weapons, gain new knowledge and recover from the major event of act two. It’s usually a calmer time in the story and allows the audience to take stock of the story so far. It allows us to see how far the hero has come but also, how far she still has to travel.
Also, note that the villain is now at its strongest.
This is where the battle reaches its dramatic conclusion. The climax is not the ordeal, the major plot point of act two which saw our hero at her lowest point. This is a new battle. A battle to the death. This is the point where the over-arching conflict gets resolved.
If there’s a villain, she dies here or, at least, is defeated.
All significant loose ends should be tied up, and the tension of the story should ease after the drama of the climax. If our hero’s goal isn’t completely fulfilled in the climax, it needs to be achieved here.
The reader needs to have a satisfying conclusion to the story and everything that was promised to them over the course of the story should now be fulfilled.
Transformation of the main character:
The hero has to change in some way to make the story satisfying. The writer must show that the hero has learned the lessons presented to her during the course of the story. They have to be shown to have overcome the obstacles thrown at them. They have to have achieved most, if not all of their goals, and they need to show the reader they have acquired new knowledge.
There should be an opportunity for the hero to revisit her old life in some way so that this transformation can be seen.
In summary, act three needs to show that everything the hero has gone through has led to this point and a change in her character. This is achieved through the drama of the novel and illustrated through the pre-climax, climax and resolution of the novel.
What do you think? Is there anything else you would include?