Three or Four Acts?

Recently, I saw an infrographic that showed a story as not 3 Acts but 4.  Since I’m one of these people that always rushes the ending, this is a Godsend for me.  Act Four is the Resolution.  That means I need to take an entire act to wrap things up.  That’s more of less 16 scenes.

tools to get the job doneI know, I know.  That’s pretty much the same as Act 3 in the 3 Act Structure.  But this version works better for me because each Act carries the same portion of the story.

The same portion.  That’s the important part for my tricky brain.  In the 3 Act Structure, Act I is the introduction and 1/4 of the story.  Act II is the main action and 1/2 of the story.  Act III is the resolution.  Yes it is even called the same thing but it is only 1/4 of the story.  Because of this, I could make excuses for my too short endings.  “This Act is supposed to be shorter.  See?  I’m only doing what I’m supposed to do.”  I’d even find Act III checklists and go through it all.  “Got it.  Done it. Check.  Don’t need it.  Check.  Got this too.”  If I had everything checked off, I reasoned, the balance was less important.

In short, I was fibbing to myself.


It’s funny.  Even when we know what our story needs, we make excuses.  I’ve put enough effort into the characterization.  The setting is good enough but it isn’t a real place anyway.

The trick to being successful in this business is finding the tools that you need to help you get the job done.  In my case, I need something to make me recognize the need for balance.  Maybe you need something to remind you to write 20 minutes a day.  Or you need the goal of sending out two manuscripts a month.  Whatever it is, we each need to find the tools that we need to get the job done right.  What you need, won’t be the same thing that I need.

To find out a bit mroe about what I need (in this case 4 Act Structure) check out my post today at the Muffin.