Setup, Confrontation, Resolution

Through five years (yes, I’m a procrastinator) of college English classes, including play-writing, one topic that failed to reach my ears even once was story structure.  Maybe I missed those classes. I’m sure this isn’t a new consideration for many but it was a game changer for me.

Many stories, whether we’re talking about books, TV, movies, etc., take place across three “acts.” This is the aptly named three-act structure in screenwriting. Each of these acts serves as a piece of the story, usually at the end of which appears either a new conflict, revelation, conclusion – something that takes the story to a new place or gives the “viewer” new information that alters the story in some significant way.

Had someone pointed out early on that this could be applied to any form of storytelling, it would have saved me years of frustration trying to understand how to effectively develop and drive a story. It’s an invaluable tool the way in which a hammer is invaluable when driving a nail into a board.

Of course, many stories take place over more or fewer acts and that decision should be based on what best serves the story. But the really important thing here is that it provides a basic structure to build off of and an easy way to start developing and organizing your main plot points with the least amount of frustration.


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