The Tragedy of Three Act Story Structure

Note for Me: Probably, I should have made a video on this topic.

I have been watching, reading and following lots of modern content. There is a drastic increase in mediums through which many storytellers can tell, show and narrate their stories. While many good and new storytellers are getting benefits from it, there are lots of bad content served to us in the name of entertainment.

For me, the bad story is the plagiarised content, careless approach to characters or its motivation and repeated story with different packaging.

In these stories, I noticed the three-act story structure. It looks like everyone has just surface-level knowledge of the classic storytelling method and they are using it to get away from the real work which is developing the story.

What is Three Act Story Structure?

The Three Act Structure is the most common methodology used to craft a story. The structure consists of three acts: Introduction of the characters and the problems (the setup), Attempt to resolve the problem (the confrontation), Find the solution and get the resolution (the resolution). It’s a classic, yet basic storytelling method to narrate a play, film, novel and short stories.

While this methodology looks simple, many fail to execute it in a proper manner. The most common mistake is that the writer often overlooks the important aspects (variables) of the story in their attempt to stick to the three-act structure. However, there are many classic and popular novels, films, stories and plays to follow its rule successfully. For any beginner writers, the three-act structure can be their best to understand the process of storytelling.

Now, if it is so good why the some of the new storytellers fail to execute it properly?

Mocking the Structure by Overusing Harshly

A story has many aspects to take care of such as characters, background, plot points, incidents or events, cause & effect and resolution. These aspects come at the different point in the three-act structure. When a lazy writer just starts using similar characters, plot points, incidents, background and other aspects and reprograms everything into the three-act structure, it becomes recognizable and boring for the reader or the audience. Overusing of anything sucks. It mocks the classic methodology as well as the audience. Many of the modern storytellers fall into this line and exploit the structure carelessly.

Failing to Play with Variables

Try to remember all the good novels, stories or movies you read and see if those stories follow the three-act structure. I bet that most of those stories would. But, did you still enjoy those stories? If your answer is yes, it is because that it never made you recognize the patterns. The storyteller has played with the different characters, their motivations, unique backgrounds, plot points, distinctive events. Experimenting with these aspects make the story unique which is missing in today’s storytelling.

There Are Other Methods

Since a story comes from our own life experiences and incidents, there is no way it can be finished in just three acts. There can be four-act structure, five-act structure or as many acts as we want. The Three Act Structure is not the only method. There are lots of books, movies, plays and stories that don’t follow the three-act structure but they connect and are popular.

As a storyteller, we don’t need a particular pattern to complete the story. We must create and develop characters & backgrounds and trust our ability to progress through their actions and events. Try experimenting in these areas. Experimentation is the key to learn the craft of storytelling.

Keep Reading Keep Humming Keep Telling Stories

2 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Three Act Story Structure

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