So You Wanna Be a Writer? Four things you need to have in Act Three of your novel.

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.

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Climax:

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.

Resolution:

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.

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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?

 

So you wanna be a writer? Five Reasons Why The Three Act Structure is For You

Okay, today’s post is going to focus on The Three Act Structure and why it’s great for everyone, especially newbies.

Reason One – It’s Simple!

The Three Act Structure is probably the simplest way of plotting a story. There are other ways to plot stories but sometimes the different methods can get a little complicated.

Every story has a beginning, middle and end and it doesn’t take a scientist to work out that each of the three acts corresponds to one of these parts in the story.

Act One is the beginning of the story, the place where we meet our hero; an introduction. The technical term for this is stasis. Stasis means a period of inactivity or equilibrium. Our hero is inactive, going about his business as he usually would until he is called into action when a triggering event happens. Basically, act one is setting the story up for the action that follows in acts two and three.

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Act Two is the middle of the story, the quest, the action of the story. Our hero crosses the threshold and sets off on his quest. Sometimes, this is called the confrontation part of the story.

Act Three is the resolution, that is, all the consequences that follow the action of act two. The hero is now in a new world and must learn how to live in it.

So, in basic terms:

Act One is the beginning: The hero deciding to act on a goal.

Act Two is the middle: The hero takes action.

Act Three is the end: The hero must face up to the consequences of that action.

Or, even more simply put;

Act One: The hero decides to act.

Act Two: The action itself.

Act Three: The consequences of that action.

Reason Two: It’s a great guide especially for newbies!

The three-act structure can be broken down further, like this:

Act One:

Stage One – The set up

Stage Two – New Situation

Act Two:

Stage Three – Progress

Stage Four – Complications and Higher Stakes

Act Three:

Stage Five – Final Push

Stage Six – The Aftermath

You don’t need to break your story down into these extra sections if you don’t want to, but if you’re struggling to find ideas for what to write next you could use this as a guide.

For example, in act two we need the hero to make some progress but he can’t get everything his own way. There have to be obstacles in his path which gradually become harder to overcome. There are highs and lows but by the end of act two things should be more intense. Even though our hero has made good progress there will be complications and higher stakes so, by the end of act two, the hero should be at his lowest point.

The three-act structure can keep your story on track.

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Reason Three: It’s Flexible!

Because it’s so simple, it’s very flexible. It can be used as a guide for many different mediums. Want to write a screenplay? You can use the three-act structure. Want to write a novel but don’t know where to start? Use the three-act structure.

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Reason Four: It’s a great place to start!

Because it’s so simple and flexible, it’s a great place to start learning how to structure a story. There are other ways of structuring but one can often become lost when researching these because they have so many different parts to understand. These days the three-act structure is often seen as a stifling way to write a story, that it’s old fashioned and boring.

I disagree. Once you get to grips with the three-act structure it makes it easier to understand the other forms of plotting. The three-act structure is a good starting point, a great springboard into discovering new ways of structuring. It’s one more tool in the writer’s toolkit.

Reason Five: It helps manage the unmanageable!

You’re new to this writing malarkey, right? You want to write a novel and you have all these ideas swimming around but you don’t know where to start plotting, so you don’t. It’s too much. It’s too overwhelming.

Well, the three-act structure is perfect for you. As I said above, the three-act structure is so easy and flexible it will allow you to tame the beast, so to speak. As a newbie, you can become very overwhelmed with the idea of plotting. Like, where tf do I actually begin? Where does this section go? Okay, so my hero’s been called to action, what next?

The three-act structure allows you to give your thoughts some cohesion, some structure, As I said, it allows you to manage the unmanageable.

It won’t be easy. Writing a novel can be scary and overwhelming. Do it anyway. Use the three-act structure to begin your own adventure.

Good luck!