On Writing, Plot & Structure

Story Structure: Act 3 (Showdown & Resolution)

October 17, 2012

When you get to writing the Showdown segment of Act 3, you–the author–finally get to write the scene to which all of the action in the novel has been building: the hero now confronts his nemesis face to face for the decisive battle.

Structurally, this should happen midway through Act 3.

In our last blog post on the need for urgency in Act 3, we had the hero racing against time to face off against the antagonist. The hero is armed with hope and determination and with some slim chance of success. The antagonist appears to be a near-invincible Goliath.

Up to now, the hero may have confronted any number of challenges. He may have succeeded in overcoming the challenges on his journey to this point in the story. But none of his victories, so far, have enabled him to achieve his Key Goal. Now the hero’s ongoing struggle to achieve his elusive Key Goal boils down to this one Final Battle.

The Showdown should be “writ large.” It should be a big, exciting sceme. It’s not just a minor skirmish; it’s the climactic battle. The stakes are enormous. This is the hero’s last chance.

The Showdown leads to the Resolution (or climax) of the story.  In the Resolution of the Showdown, he will emerge victorious or go down in defeat. If the writer has done his job properly, the Showdown should hold readers glued to the page, rooting for the hero, their hearts beating a little faster, their palms sweaty.

Some examples of Showdown/Resolution:

– In Jaws, Chief Brody, Quint and Hooper battle the shark. The shark kills Quint. Hooper and Chief Brody survive when Brody blows up the shark by shooting at compressed air tank lodged momentarily in its jaws.

– In Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget’s Mr. Right (Mark Darcy) announces his engagement to Bridget’s rival and his decision to leave England with his fiancee to accept a job in New York. Bridget gives a speech at the engagement party revealing her true feelings for Mark. In the next scene, Mark calls off his engagement to Natasha and his decision to leave England. Bridget appears to have found her Mr. Right!

– In The Fugitive Kimble confronts both Sykes, the hired killer, and the real killer, Nichols, while fending off an implacable FBI agent who believes him (Kimble) to be the guilty man. Following a knock-down-drag-em-out fight, Kimble proves his innocence.

Happy writing!

Watch Jessica Hatchigan’s video tutorial – “How Bestselling Authors Create Pageturner Novels: Plot & Structure ” instantly on your PC, Mac, compatible TV or device via Amazon.com’s instant video.



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