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The Three-Act Structure

Plot month continues on WU.

There are as many different ways to plot as their are people to write stories, by which I mean, there is no right way to plot.  My rule has always been the simpler, the better. For many writers, the simplest frame for plotting out a novel-length story is the three-act structure [1].  In other words, a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The best breakdown I’ve seen that doesn’t involve buying a screenplay writing book is Peder Hill’s outline (view the complete page HERE [2]).  In the past, I’ve printed his outline out and use it as a starting point to hash out ideas.  Second only to Holly Lisle’s invaluable website [3] for writerly information and tips, Hill’s page on what he calls the elements of writing [4] is extremely useful.  I tried to contact Peder to invite him to WU for a guest blog, but to no avail. Peder, if you’re reading, please contact us [5]!

Drumroll . . . here it is, Peder Hill’s breakdown of the three-act structure:

Character Arc and Story Structure

Have you used the three-act structure to plot your novel?  Does it work for you?  What are the pitfalls you’ve encountered?  Let us know in the comments.

Write on!
Image by mikeypetrucci [6].

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About Kathleen Bolton [8]

Kathleen Bolton is co-founder of Writer Unboxed. She writes under a variety of pseudonyms, including Ani Bolton [9]. She has written two novels as Cassidy Calloway [10]: Confessions of a First Daughter, and Secrets of a First Daughter--both books in a YA series about the misadventures of the U.S. President's teen-aged daughter, published by HarperCollins, and Tamara Blake, for the novel Slumber [11].