What is a Three Act Structure?
The three act structure is a model used to break a story up into three parts also known as acts. They are often called the set up, the confrontation and the resolution. For more in depth info, go to https://blog.reedsy.com/three-act-structure/
I use the three act structure to organize my outline and scenes. Here is how I break down my stories…
- Introduce the major characters.
- Introduce the world as needed. In order to prevent info dumps – overloading info about the world in one chapter or scene – I just reveal bits that are relevant to the scene.
- Introduce the major conflicts such as revenge, feuding families, mysterious death, etc.
- Introduce subplots – little mini stories. This helps push the story along. Example: While Aang and his team are in Ba Sing Se looking for Appa, Zuko and Iroh are there as well, living as refugees. Aang and his team are the main plot while Zuko and Iroh are the sub plot.
- Raise the stakes. At the end of each act or chapter, you should raise the stakes to keep the readers interested. Example: Aang starts the season trying to protect Ba Sing Se from the war – there is no war in Ba Sing Se. Go to Lake Lao Gai! – and ends the season almost dying while Ba Sing Se falls to the Fire Nation. This left us all waiting for the third and final season.
- Rising actions: a series of incidents that create tension and suspense.
- Solve conflicts and then create new ones. Example: Zuko seemed to have found peace with not going after the Avatar and living a simple life in Ba Sing Se. His peace is challenged by an offer to come home as a hero; all he has to do is betray his Uncle.
- Give more important information, like where the villain’s secret hide out may be or how Aang can easily access the Avatar state.
- Build more tension. Example: Just as Aang was about to let go of Katara and enter the Avatar state, he finds out that she’s in trouble. As he runs to save her, the Guru warns him that if he leaves this undone, he won’t be able to enter the Avatar state AT ALL.
- Raise the stakes again.
- Things come to a boiling point. Example: Zuko tells team Avatar that his father, Ozai planned to attack the earth kingdom during Sozin’s comet. If Aang wanted to save the world, it would HAVE to be on that day. He also had to figure out how to defeat him without killing him.
- Climax/ Big fight. Example: The montage of Aang fighting the firelord turned phoenix king, Zuko fighting his sister Azula for the throne, and Iroh and the white lotus taking Ba Sing Se back from the fire nation.
- Solved major conflict. Example: Aang found a way to defeat Ozai without killing him. Ozai is then defeated, Zuko with the help of Katara, defeats his sister and is now the new firelord, Iroh and the rest of the white lotus free Ba Sing Se and Iroh gets his tea shop back.
- Falling actions: Tying up loose ends. Example: Zuko transitions into his role as firelord and reunites with Mai. Everyone reunites with their family members. Iroh reopens his tea shop and Aang and Katara get together.
- The end