3-Act structure for nonfiction (Part I)

Interesting ideas here: “The 3-act structure is a common form for storytelling. Movies and plays in particular adhere closely to this model most of the time. While in fiction you can write to fit the structure, nonfiction makes it a little trickier because you need to adhere to the facts. And surprise! Our real lives don’t necessarily fit into neat little storytelling containers.”

If You Have Five Seconds to Spare

3-act-structure

How the 3-act structure looks for fiction (taken from https://www.nownovel.com/blog/three-act-formula-novels/).

The 3-act structure is a common form for storytelling. Movies and plays in particular adhere closely to this model most of the time. While in fiction you can write to fit the structure, nonfiction makes it a little trickier because you need to adhere to the facts. And surprise! Our real lives don’t necessarily fit into neat little storytelling containers.

That being said, I have found the 3-act structure useful in shaping my nonfiction. Reading more about the form helped me at a crucial time when I was struggling to organize my memoir. Nonfiction won’t fit every single criterion set out in the 3-act structure, but the form can be helpful as a loose guide.

When I teach memoir and other nonfiction classes, I always spend time talking about the 3-act structure. I adapted this 3-act guide from Mary Carroll…

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