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First observed by Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago in Ancient Greece, the Three-Act Structure is one of the most powerful and pervasive tools for crafting a novel.

Today, we’ll take a look at the typical plot elements found in most long-form stories like novels and movies. This structure will empower you to connect meaningfully with your readers to tell stories they understand and relate to.

Note: The graphics are especially helpful for this lesson. Please consider checking out the video on YouTube or utilize the corresponding lesson on The Company website.

ASSIGNMENT: Continue to develop your three ideas. Brainstorm the “Impossible Thing” the protagonist will achieve over the course of three acts?

Consider: who is the protagonist? What would be impossible for him? Or, what makes the thing impossible for him?

FOR FURTHER STUDY: Explore these ideas further with The Novel Matrix book at You can also take the Novel Matrix classes at Writers.Company.

Watch a movie and see if you can identify the major plot points of the Three-Act Structure. Almost any mainstream movie made in the past 50 years will follow this structure. However, here are some great examples. These movies will also be referenced as examples through the 90-Day Novel Challenge:

Star Wars: A New Hope (the original, a.k.a. “Episode 4,” 1978)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Godfather (1972)
Hitch (2005)
Wonder Woman (2017)
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1947)
The Matrix (1999)
The Hunger Games (2012)