Three-act story structure

The three act story structure is a framework used in screenwriting and novels.

  1. Act 1 — Setup
    1. Beginning
    2. Inciting incident
    3. Second thoughts
    4. Climax of act 1
  2. Act 2 — Confrontation
    1. Obstacle
    2. Obstacle (ascending action)
    3. Midpoint (big twist!)
    4. Obstacle
    5. Disaster!
    6. Crisis!
    7. Climax of act 2
  3. Act 3 — Resolution
    1. Climax of act 3
    2. Obstacles (descending action)
    3. Denouement (wrap-up)
    4. End

Looking at Star Wars through the lens of the three-act story structure:

  1. Act 1 — Setup
    1. Beginning — "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...", Rebel ship flees Star Destroyer.
    2. Inciting incident — "Help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you're my only hope!"
    3. Second thoughts — "I can't get involved. I've got work to do. It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it! But there's nothing I can do about it right now."
    4. Climax of act 1 — returns to destroyed farm, resolves to join the Rebellion.
  2. Act 2 — Confrontation
    1. Obstacle — Cantina fight.
    2. Obstacle (ascending action) — Escape in the Falcon.
    3. Midpoint (big twist!) — "That's what I'm trying to tell you kid. Alderaan ain't there." "That's no moon. It's a space station."
    4. Obstacle — Tractor beam
    5. Disaster — Trash pit
    6. Crisis — Obi-wan Kenobi dies
    7. Climax of act 2 — Escape from the Death Star
  3. Act 3 — Resolution
    1. Climax of act 3 — Trench run
    2. Obstacles — "Use the Force Luke"
    3. Denouement (wrap-up) — "Remember the Force will be with you. Always."
    4. End — Medal scene

Write an adventure novel in 3 days — the Michael Moorcock way

Three-act structure on Wikipedia