Three-act structure; Act II (Middle)

What is Act II?

Writing Act II is hard. Talking about it is even harder! The only point most authors agree about is that the second Act (or middle) is the heart of the book, taking about half of the book. The Protagonist, faced the inciting event and passed through the no-return-point at plot point I, is now in the real crucible.

The major disagreement on Act II is: how many plot points form a good Act II? Some believe 2 Plot Points suffice (Midpoint and Plot Point II). Another group accepts not less than 4 Plot Points (Pinch Point I, Midpoint, Pinch Point II, and Plot Point II). For some minimalists, 1 Plot Point is enough; only Plot Point II which marks the end of Act II. [Reminder: Plot Points are the events that change the direction of the story. Don’t confuse Plot Points with points in the plot: any event in the story is a point in the plot and moves the story forward.  You may exclude some points in the plot and this doesnot change the Story Structure, but if you take out one of the Plot Points, the story collapses.]

More bewildering is that some suggest a recipe for Act II; you may have heard of “3-try-fail” in the realm of the picture books. Some recipes included the emotional state of the Protagonist in each Plot Point; the Protagonist should be devastated at Plot Point II.

Neither as a reader nor a writer, I cannot agree with any of these rules! I have read books that, in spite of following the aforementioned rule, were tasteless. On contrary, I read books, with strong characters, which didn’t follow the point’s rules one by one.

To me, providing a specific rule for Act II is unacceptable; Act II, regardless of the book’s length, depends on the Protagonist’s emotions, positive and negative traits, and the Plot Goal. Stories are miniature versions of real life. How could someone give specific rule(s) on dealing with obstacles in life? If the story has a strong Antagonist (like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series), the story should have Pinch Points. If the story is a picture book with an Emotional-Social Learning (ESL), in which the Protagonist needs to experience a new emotion, we don’t need Pinch Points or even Midpoint.

To know which Plot Point is applicable for your story, let’s discuss them one by one. Afterward, it is up to you to decide what your story needs.



Download the image:


Pinch Point I

here is pargraph


here is paragrah

Pinch Point II

here is paragra

Plot Point  II

last paragaph


Act II in Picture Books


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Posted in Picture Book Pedia.

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