Three Act Structure

in writing •  3 months ago 

Three Act Structure

3 Acts:

Act 1: The Setup (Beginning)
Act 2: Conflict (Middle)
Act 3: Resolution (End)

Act 1 – Intro, inciting incident, pinch/push
Act 2 – New/old contrast, midpoint, action/dedication
Act 3 - Pinch/darkest moment, power within/converge, climax/resolution

Note: Each Act Is divided into a beginning, middle, end.

3 Acts + 9 Blocks

Act 1:
Setup: Introduce protagonist and ordinary world
Conflict: A problem disrupts protagonist life
Resolution: Protagonist life has changed, pushed into a new world or situation

Act 2:
Setup: Protagonist experiences new world
Conflict: Protagonist encounters a crisis
Resolution: Protagonist dedicates to finding solution

Act 3:
Setup: Protagonist faces trails, victory seems impossible
Conflict: Protagonist must find the within and take action
Resolution: Protagonist fights and wins, resolves problem

Note: Each Act is divided into three blocks; setup, conflict, resolution

3 Acts + 9 Blocks = 27 Chapters

Act 1
Setup: Introduce protagonist and ordinary world

  1. Introduction (Setup)
  2. Inciting incident (Conflict)
  3. Immediate reaction (Resolution)

Conflict: A problem disrupts protagonist life

  1. Reaction (Setup)
  2. Action (Conflict)
  3. Consequences (Resolution)

Resolution: Hero’s life has changed direction

  1. Pressure (Setup)
  2. Pinch (Conflict)
  3. Push (Resolution)

Act 2
Setup: Protagonist explores new world

  1. New World (Setup)
  2. Fun and game, all is good (Conflict)
  3. Old world contrast (Resolution)

Conflict: Protagonist encounters crisis of new world

  1. Build up (Setup)
  2. Midpoint (Conflict)
  3. Reversal (Resolution)

Resolution: Protagonist dedicates to finding solution

  1. Reaction (Setup)
  2. Action (Conflict)
  3. Dedication (Resolution)

Act 3
Setup: hero faces defeat, victory seems impossible

  1. Trails (Setup)
  2. Pinch (Conflict)
  3. Dedication (Resolution)

Conflict: Protagonist must find power within, and take action

  1. Power within (Setup)
  2. Action (Conflict)
  3. Solution (Resolution)

Resolution: Protagonist fights, wins, resolve quest, achieve goal

  1. Battle (Setup)
  2. Climax (Conflict)
  3. Resolution (Resolution)

Note: Take the nine blocks and give each block a beginning, middle, and end, resulting in a 27 chapter outline.

27 Chapter Outline

Act 1

1. Intro
2. Inciting incident
3. Immediate reaction
4. Reaction
5. Action
6. Consequence
7. pressure
8. Pinch
9. Push

Act 2

1. New world
2. Fun and games, all is good
3. Old/new contrast
4. Buildup
5. Midpoint
6. Reversal
7. Reaction
8. Action
9. Dedication


1. Trails
2. Pinch
3. Darkest point
4. Power within
5. Action
6. converge
7. battle
8. Climax
9. Resolution

Note: Outline is just a foundation to be a story.


     The Three Act Structure is an outline used by screenwriters and novelist. The purpose is to constantly create drama throughout the narrative by creating conflict by deploying a setup, confrontation, and Resolution. With this structure, a narrative is divided into a beginning, middle, end; Three Acts. Each Act is divided by three blocks, and each block is divided into three smaller blocks, resulting in a twenty seven chapter outline.
     The Three Act structure is known to create fast paced novels and is a great way to create a detailed outline for your narrative. It creates structure of the plot, clarity, drama, and helps to keep the writer on track throughout the writing process. But the writer must understand there is no good or wrong way to create an outline. Each writer is different and each story is different. Use this as a structure only. It is not a secret formula to writing best selling novels. The writer can add or detract from the structure according to the needs of the story.

Note: Do not change your story to suit the Three Act Structure. If needed change the structure to suit your story.

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