The Three-Part Plot by Jennifer Snow (A Year To Publication column)

What A Girl Wants by Jennifer Snow

What A Girl Wants by Jennifer Snow

Today we welcome a new guest writer to Writer’s Fun Zone, Jennifer Snow who is stopping by to chat with us today about “The Three-Part Plot,” her inaugural post for her A Year To Publication column at Writer’s Fun Zone.  Enjoy!


A Year To Publication column (#1)

Writing a 90k word novel can be a daunting task for any writer-new or established, but thinking about the work in progress in smaller pieces/stages can often help eliminate some anxiety and provide a loose outline to work with. I like to think of my stories as a three-part play-The Problem, The Middle Action, and The Resolution.

Part 1: The Problem

Every story has to start with a protagonist’s goal-what do they want? What’s at stake if they don’t achieve their goals? What are the consequences of going after what they want? The rewards?

In this stage of the plot, as authors, we need to establish our main and secondary characters. We have to show the reader the world in which our character lives-where do they reside? What do they do? Who do they love? And how does each of these things impact what they want most? In this stage we also need to set the scene, establish backstory that motivates our characters and compels them to act. Internal and external conflicts that stand in the way of the protagonist’s goal also need to be established. Readers need to have a clear sense of what the character’s goal is, why he needs to reach it and what will be the consequences if he doesn’t. Finally the character needs to decide to go after what they want. In most cases there has to be something that ultimately pushes the character into action. The reward has to be greater than the risks and not going after his goal can’t be seen as an option.

Part 2: The Middle Action

Next, the story unfolds, develops and gets more complicated. The protagonist faces several challenges on the way to their goals, more backstory is revealed, and subplots are often introduced. Plot twists and turns make the hero’s journey interesting and keeps the reader engaged as his goal seems to get further away or more difficult to reach. It is in this section that the dark moment appears when we worry that our protagonist will never reach their goal and we fear for what’s at stake. Toward the end of this section of the novel, the subplots are resolved and the protagonist rises to the challenges facing him. But there is usually one last battle to be resolved in order to reach his goal.

Part 3: The Resolution

It is in this last section when a final, unexpected twist occurs, serving as the final challenge for the protagonist. The hero’s true strength is tested and he needs to prevail over the external and internal conflicts that still persist and threaten his success. At this point in the story, the character has grown, based on what he has learned about himself and the world around him throughout the journey. He is now ready and fully capable of achieving his goals and receiving what he wants most. The bigger plot is resolved and the story ends with a changed character.

This general overview is simple and can be applied to any genre fiction novel. The elements needed in every story are essentially the same-The Problem, The Middle Action, and The Resolution.



Jennier Snow

Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta, the Romance Writers of America, the Canadian Author Association, and  She is also a regular blogger on the Heartwarming Authors site and is a contributing author to Mslexia Magazine, WestWord Magazine and RWR. She has also taught RWA Chapters courses online.  Her 2013 Holiday Romance-The Trouble With Mistletoe was a finalist in the 2014 Golden Quill Contest and the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold Contest.

Her publishing credits include two holiday novellas, previously published by The Wild Rose Press, now re-released or being re-released as self-published editions through Amazon. The Mistletoe Fever was an Amazon bestseller for two weeks in the category of Kindle Short Reads. Her six book small town, Brookhollow series is published through Harlequin Heartwarming and she has a new MMA sports romance series releasing through Berkley/NAL Intermix in 2015. RT Reviews has given each of her Brookhollow series books 4 stars.

She also hosts an annual SnowGlobe Award contest in recognition of holiday themed romance stories, with over forty entries each year, with participants ranging from new authors to NYT Bestselling authors, such as Brenda Novak and Sarah Morgan. More information about the contest can be found at

She is active on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and various blog sites and has a monthly author newsletter.

More information can be found at

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