The classical 3-act structure has it roots deep in pre-history, having initially come from Aristotle’s Poetics. Much of what defined a well written play has now been transferred to not only the art of screenwriting, but also full-length works of fiction.
The main characteristics to remember are:
- that the first act sets up the action
- the second act is where the confrontation takes place
- while the third act offers the resolution to the story
- there should be a plot point at the end of acts one and two, which clearly takes the story in a different direction
- there should be at least one strong main character who steers the action
- that the story is clearly character-driven, even though the subject matter may concern physical action. In fact, all the important structural story-beats should ideally be linked to the main character and their evolvement throughout the story.
- the actions and or reactions of the main character should drive the story forward.
Follow these simple rules and you can’t go too wrong when construction your next novel.