Rough Story Arc – Structuring Your Novel

Structuring your Novel - K.M. Weiland

Do you use the Three (or Four) Act Structure in your writing?

While I’m sure you’re aware of how to use the Three Act Structure with a beginning, middle, and end… you may not be aware of the individual components of each Act and how those relate to each other in the big picture.

I’m a big fan of K.M. Weiland and her book: Structuring Your Novel.

She has this great post on her blog: How to Structure Your Story’s Outline, which I used as my basis to create this outline that you can use as a basis for your own stories.

Rough Story Arc

Act 1


The beginning of every story should present character, conflict, plot, setting, and theme. We’ve created a hook only when we’ve convinced readers to ask the question, “What’s going to happen next?”

Inciting Incident:

This is the turning point halfway through the First Act, when an event thrusts the Protagonist into the main action of the story. The catalyst that sets the rest of the story in motion.

First Plot Point:

The first major plot point changes everything. This is the point of no return for your Protagonist. Often, this plot point will be the inciting incident; if not, it will be the key event. The first plot point is the moment when the setup ends, and your Protagonist crosses his personal Rubicon. But this isn’t just an event that happens to him, this is an event that either incorporates or is directly followed by the character’s reacting in a strong and irrevocable way. Also called Motivator/Disaster.

Act 2

First Pinch Point:

A reminder of the Antagonist’s power, which provides new clues as to the nature of the major conflict. A turning point that swings the story in a new direction and sets up the epiphany that will occur in the midpoint.


The moment when the Protagonist finally realizes the true nature of the major conflict.

Second Pinch Point:

Foreshadows the third plot point and reminds the Protagonist what is at stake.

Act 3

Third Plot Point:

A low moment in the story for the Protagonist, a place of seeming defeat. He must be honest about himself with himself. He must chose between the Truth and the Lie and realize all the consequences of that choice.


Renewed attack and FINAL rejection of the Lie and embracing of the Truth. The Climax begins as the Protagonist acts upon his new truth finally and fully.

Climactic Moment:

A specific moment in which the Protagonist shines and uses new-found abilities. The conflict ends because the Protagonist has finally conclusively destroyed the Antagonistic force.


The conclusion which provides an answer to the thematic question raised at the story’s beginning and also acts as a preview of the Protagonist’s new LIE-free life.