Plotting · Story · tips · Writing

Plot Structure: The Third Act

Third Act

This week, we are finishing up our Plot Structure series. To catch up on the first two acts, either visit the archives or go here for the First Act and here for the Second Act.

The 3rd Plot Point

So at this point, our main character is feverishly preparing for the final battle between them and the antagonist. He/she will continue to do so until the 3rd Plot Point, which should occur at around the 75% point. Also called the Dark Night of the Soul, this is the protagonist’s lowest point. Just before, his/her goals were within reach, only to be ripped away by something, usually the antagonist. This point is a personal transformation of the protagonist, when they decide to face the antagonist with all they’ve got.

One example of this that I always think of is in the movie Spiderman: Homecoming, when Peter has on his old suit because Tony Stark deemed him too irresponsible to use the more professional suit. Peter goes up against the antagonist and ultimately ends up under quite a bit of debris, with no one around but him. It is at this point that Peter makes the decision to take down the antagonist, a decision that is manifested physically when he finds the strength to push off all the debris and renew his efforts to take down Toomes.

The Climax

From here, your protagonist is ready to take down the antagonist with everything that they have. Your protagonist should also be figuring out whatever inner problems they have been dealing with ever since the start of the story, beginning to close up their character arcs. Something to keep in mind is that your character has changed, meaning that they won’t act/react the same way now as they would have at the beginning of the story, so make sure this shows through so your readers can also see the transformation that your character has gone through.

The Resolution

I get it, you have labored through an entire novel, and you just want to slap some words down and get to ‘the end.’ But have hope, because you are almost there. The only thing left is the resolution. I feel that the most important part of the resolution is making sure that your readers are left satisfied. They need to feel like the protagonist has changed the way he/she needed to, and that they didn’t feel cheated of some major conflict (*cough cough* Twilight *cough cough*). Another thing that you need to do is to show your character in their ‘new normal.’ How has their world changed due to the conflict they faced? Lastly, you need to show the reader that the characters also have lives beyond the pages, that their story continues long after the book does, so make sure you put a lot of thought into those last few lines. One of my favorite authors, Marie Lu, said that it is like diverging paths with your character (though she definitely said it more eloquently), you and your characters have spent quite a bit of time together, but now it is time for you to step aside and allow your characters continue their journey.

I hope that you found this post and series helpful, please comment below if you want me to try something like this again in the future or not.



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