Writing Comics: The 3 Act Structure

And we're back! Remember this is the basics for writing, there is alot more that goes in to structure but this is a good start before reading further. Hope you enjoy it guys, and drop me a line with feedback!




The First Act

This is the short period at the beginning of a story. The first act is an introduction to the characters and the world they inhabit. All major characters and the set up for the films plot should be established at this point. The first act is of equilibrium as the protagonist has not been caught up in the events that will eventually unfold over time. For example: Luke going about his life on the farm in Star Wars, the initial disruption is the two droids arriving at his house. Act 1 ends and the disruption begins when his aunt and uncle are killed forcing him to go on the hero’s journey to defeat the empire.


The Second Act

This is the main chunk of the story in which all the action and story development takes place. The story has kicked off and taken the protagonist and other main characters into a journey, whether it is emotional or physical. Characters are developed further, the narrative goes from scene to scene, crafting the story. Characters engage in conflict in order to try and achieve their goals. Everything has changed and the characters are caught up in it. Subplots may also come into play (side stories that relate to the main plot), the most used being the romantic subplot. Most protagonists’ will meet their romantic interest during the second act and by the end of the 3rd act will be together. Star Wars example again: Luke goes on his mission with the rebels to defeat the Empire. On the way they get to know each other, battle against the villainous Darth Vader and take on different odds stacked against them. In a narrative sense Luke’s romantic subplot is with Princess Leia despite it not being actual romance. The 3rd act culminates in their friendship.


The Third Act

The climax of the story. The second act has come to an end with a major plot point. This may be a twist in the tale, or the final steps towards the characters journey.This event will lead to the climactic end of the story which usually features the protagonist taking on the main villain to accomplish his/hers goal. Once the 3rd actis over, everything resumes to a new equilibrium for better or worse. Star Wars again: The characters work themselves through the narrative when they discover that the Death Star plans to destroy the planet where the rebels are hiding. The 3rd act begins when they take the offensive to the looming Death Star and defeat it, along with a triumph over the main villain Darth Vader. Once destroyed they rejoice in celebration. The new equilibrium being the threat is over and Luke has succeeded through his journey, but the Empire isn’t completely destroyed.



Sticking to this structure can be crucial to how well you tell your story. But also remember that rules are meant to be broken. The 3 act structure is a helpful guide through your story, but around that structure you can construct weird and unique plot points and develop around it. Simple is still the way to go, but experimentation is encouraged when creating your stories.