Story Structure Diagram

Posted on Apr 2, 2016 (last modified May 7, 2021)

Here is a story structure diagram to help you visualize, plan, and plot your novel.

LEGEND: Acts, Periods, Events, Points


  • ACT I – The Beginning
    • Hook – Grab the reader, provoke interest,and cause questions to be asked.
    • Inciting Event – The event that sets the story in motion, and will lead to the Key Event.
    • Key Event – The event that causes the protagonist to be caught up in the story.
    • Plot Point 1 – A change of surroundings. A personal turning point. The point of no return for the protagonist.
  • ACT II – The Middle
    • Strong Reaction – The protagonist has a strong response to the 1st Plot Point.
    • Pinch 1 – The antagonist’s presence and power are displayed.
    • Plot Point 2 – The midpoint. The turning point of the novel. A change of direction for the characters. A push from reaction to action. A personal catalyst for the protagonist. A move to dramatic, new, fresh, different circumstances. The true midpoint is not a scene. It’s a moment within a scene. It’s like the earth’s core. The true center. Find it in your novel, and everything will radiate from it.
    • Strong Action – The protagonist takes a strong action after the Turning Point.
    • Pinch 2 – The antagonist’s presence and power are reaffirmed.
    • Plot Point 3 – We are setup on our inexorable course towards the Climax. A low point for the protagonist. Perhaps a meeting between protagonist and antagonist? A decision? An upheaval? An unexpected event?
  • ACT III – The End
    • Increased Pace – The pacing will naturally increase (and chapter length will decrease) as we approach the Climax.
    • Climax – The final 10% of the novel, where the core conflict between the protagonist and antagonist is brought to a conclusion.
      • Climactic Moment – The critical moment that fulfills the dramatic promise of the story.
    • Resolution – A brief hint (a scene or two) of how the story continues beyond the novel’s scope. A period of emotional recovery. A chance to spend another brief moment with the protagonist.


Although this is pretty standard for story structure, it is based primarily on a study of the book, Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, by K.M. Weiland. She also has an excellent blog called Helping Writers Become Better Authors where you can find a treasure trove of tips on writing.