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The Third Act: The Final Action

Third Acts are your race to the finish line. Everything has been setup and the final payoff(s) are coming in. Remember, your Third Act is buried in your First Act. You’ve raised a question about your Protagonist, placed an obstacle (the first of many) in his or her way, you’ve setup something that has to be resolved and usually has to be in such a way it is the final act by the Protagonist to signify their transformation.

Typically Third Acts are not more than 15 minutes long. (There are always exceptions to the rule). The event that sends the Second Act hurdling into the Third Act should be the emergence of the Protagonist overcoming his lowest point. The Final Action is taken by the Protagonist. Now it's a race to the finish. The suspense, tension and drama are at the highest point here.

You often will expose the theme o f the story with this final act or redemption, resolution. How and why the Protagonist has acted tells us something about the character. Your Third Act must do the following:

1) Resolve the central action line;
2) reveal the final image of the Protagonist: has he changed, into what? What is this new identity;
3) all that which is setup must be paid off.

Finally, the pace and tempo must be at its highest point here. The 3-Act structure is a building process of emotion and tension. Even with dramas and comedies, there is something going on. The Protagonist is heading towards this Third Act deliverance where the final decision is made and the action is resolved thereby allowing the theme of the story to be revealed.

Good luck and keep writing
v Chris Wehner
Take a Class From Chris

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