How I use the Three Act Plot Structure

I have been using the three-act plot structure for a couple years now. It is by far the best way to plan your books, even if you (like me) don’t do a lot of planning!

I don’t like to spend a lot of time on my outline so the more complete the plot structure is the easier I find outlining.

There are usually seven major plot points to keep in mind. You can add or arrange any other plot points you want, but these seven are the most important.

  • First comes the Exposition or Beinning, which is the introduction. I have a post on writing expositions which you can find right here.
  • Next is the Inciting Incident, which is the event that forces your characters on their journey.
  • And then there’s the Rising Action, which builds the tension for the climax
  • The Midpoint will be the ‘gasp’ moment of the story. Your character’s breaking point.
  • The Climax is the peak of the conflict.
  • Then comes the Falling Action, in which things start slowing down and you begin to wrap the story up. 
  • And finally you have the Resolution, the end of your story. 

As a “Pantser”, the three-act structure is the easiest method to create a complete outline that still leaves room for pantsing. 

This structure is split into three parts: The beginning, the middle, and the end, or the Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution. With each part having its own Climax.

How To Plan Your Novel Using The Three-Act Structure – Writer's Edit

Act One

In act one you will have the exposition, inciting incident, and your first Climax. I usually include a “Point of no return” for character development purposes. A moment in the plot where the character has the chance to choose to turn back OR it’s become evident that there is no turning back.  

Act Two

In act two there will be one or more obstacles, the midpoint, and the climax of act two.

Act Three

And in act three there will be the climax of act three, an obstacle, the wrap-up, and the end.  

This is the order in which I learned to use this method.

Thanks a bunch!

— Nerd

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