What Are The Three Parts Of A Classic Story Structure?

There are numerous ways to structure a work of fiction, whether a novel, a story, a feature film or a short film, a play, or even a comic, but the most common is the so-called classic narrative structure. It was studied more than two thousand years ago in Ancient Greece, hence its name. It is also referred to as a three-act structure.

Structuring a work of fiction entails determining the parts that will comprise the narrative, the length of each, and their relationship. This structure will serve as the framework for the entire project. Providing solid support for our work will ensure unity and prevent text parts from being out of proportion or placed where they do not belong. If you don't structure your work well, it will most likely come crashing down on you, much like a poorly built building.

For example, in the well-known fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, we learn how Little Red Riding Hood's mother sends her daughter to Grandma's house, how Little Red Riding Hood meets the wolf, and finally, how the wolf arrives first at Granny's house... The parts are related to one another, are arranged in a logical order, and none are longer than necessary. But suppose, before the wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood, the narrator spends twenty pages describing how the woodcutter washes his clothes in the river: this part of the story would be irrelevant (pardon the redundancy), and the reader would probably be uninterested in him.

The traditional narrative structure is a straightforward but consistent framework. It applies to the narratives of stories that have a single plot line. It is divided into three sections, which are as follows:

I'm sure the names are familiar. They are also known as the Presentation, Middle, Denouement, the First, Second, and Third Acts, the Introduction, Confrontation, and Solution. Let's take a look at what each one consists of:


It takes up the first section of the story, and in it, we tell the reader everything necessary to put them in the dramatic context:

  • Where the action takes place.
  • When it takes place.
  • Who is the protagonist?
  • What situation is he in?

Furthermore, we explain what events cause the character's normalcy to be disrupted and immersed in conflict. The exposition usually accounts for roughly one-fourth of the total length of the work (it is an indicative measure).

In the case of Little Red Riding Hood, we are told in the approach that she is a girl who lives with her mother. Little Red Riding Hood's mother sends her across the woods with a basket for her grandmother one day. The mother instructs her daughter not to stop along the way and not to speak to strangers. Little Red Riding Hood, being a child, walks carefree. The wolf then appears.


The development takes up most of the story, describing how events unfold after the protagonist's normalcy is disrupted until the issue is nearly resolved (either for good or for the bad protagonist). Typically, development accounts for roughly two-quarters of total work (it is once again an indicative measure).

The wolf, for example, deceives Little Red Riding Hood, arrives first at the grandmother's house, murders her, and disguises himself as her. Little Red Riding Hood arrives at the house and notices something strange about her grandmother's appearance, but the wolf pounces on her and devours her. Is this the end of the relationship?


Finally, in the resolution, the story's final section, we explain how the problem is resolved and show the situation in which the characters find themselves after the events. The resolution usually takes up about a quarter of the work (it is, again, an indicative measure).

In the example, a woodcutter hears Little Red Riding Hood's cries for help, goes to the house, kills the wolf, and saves the girl, allowing her to return home safely to her mother. The poor grandmother rests in peace, and Little Red Riding Hood learns (as does the reader) to be cautious of strangers.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.


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