Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin’s Rules for 3-Act Structure


Be it through novels, screenplays, stage plays or short fiction, many people have stories they want to tell. Unfortunately, many people have no clue about story structure. However, I came across something I think will help.

All stories have three acts. IDC IDC IDC what you think, this is the truth. Three acts: beginning, middle, and end.

Setup, conflict, resolution.

Three acts.

And while there’s no hard and fast rule about how long each act should be, a good gauge is the following: the first act takes up 25% of your story, the second act takes the next 50%, and the third and final act, 25%.

So if your manuscript is 200 pages, Act 1 should be the first 50, Act 2 would be from 50 to 150, and Act 3 would be from 150 to 200. Voila!

Ah, but now you’re wondering what each act should be about. It is simple. In a lesson taken from his Screenwriting MasterClass, award-winning film and TV writer Aaron Sorkin has laid out some basic rules for these acts:

  • Act 1: Chase hero up tree
  • Act 2: Throw rocks at them
  • Act 3: Get them down from the tree or let them die trying

Dassit. Très simple, non?

Look, it can’t get any easier or more straightforward than that. So get out there and write. Chase your characters up those trees. And don’t let ’em down until they’ve earned it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.