Aristotle’s Three-Act Story Structure
- The first act is the Protasis (beginning/setup/exposition)
- The second act is the Epitasis (middle/confrontation/complication)
- The third act is the Catastrophe (end/resolution)
In the Beginning you introduce the reader to the characters, the setting and the situation (or conflict). At the beginning of the story the main character is typically resistant to change.
Then something happens, an event that throws everything out of balance and forces the main character in a new direction. They must leave their normal life behind and go on a journey that will change them forever. This journey is the heart of the story.
In the Middle the story develops, rising and falling through a series of challenges, complications and obstacles that the hero must overcome as they struggle towards their goal. There are successes and failures, there is hope and disappointment, odds seem manageable and then insurmountable, there are unexpected turns and reversals of fortune, but through it all the stakes and the level of emotion are being raised, drawing the hero inexorably towards the story’s climax.
There is a final unexpected turn when everything seems lost before the hero draws on new strengths and lessons learned to turn the tables and achieve their goal.
In the End all the loose ends of the story are tied up and the main character’s story is concluded.