Example of 3-Act Outline

Example of 3-Act Outline

Using the old favorite, The Wizard of Oz, here is an example of how to use the 3-act outline to form the bare bones of your story. There is a blank worksheet in Learning Tools to help you outline your story.


Hook: Dorothy is running away from her Aunty and Uncles’ farm to save her dog, Toto, from mean Miss Gulch.

Backstory: Dorothy is persuaded to return home by Professor Marvel. On the way she is caught in a cyclone that transport her and the house to Munchkinland. The house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, killing her and freeing the munchkins from her terror.

Trigger: Dorothy is forced to travel alone to find the Wizard of Oz so she can get home. This triggers her lack of self-confidence.


Crisis: Dorothy is overcome by her main flaw, her lack of self-confidence. She is terrified and doesn’t know what to do.

Struggle: Dorothy has to travel down the yellow-brick road. She meets friends along the way and takes them with her on her journey to find the Wizard of Oz in the hope that he can help them all. On the way Dorothy is captured by the Wicked Witch and her friends come to her rescue. The Wicked Witch sets the scarecrow on fire.

Epiphany: Dorothy realizes her flaw, her lack of self-confidence, and that only she can overcome this by changing.


Plan: Dorothy must act fast to save Scarecrow from burning. She grabs a bucket of water and throws it on him.

Climax: Dorothy accidentally splashes the witch with water and the witch melts away. The witch’s own flaw is her undoing. She was overly confident and this brings about her demise.

Ending: Dorothy and her friends return to the Emerald City, only to discover that the wizard is a fake and cannot send Dorothy home. The Good Witch, Glenda, comes to her aid and reveals that Dorothy has had the power to solve the problem herself and return home. Then of course there is the famous scene of tapping her ruby-red heels together and chanting “There’s no place like home” until she wakes up in her own bed in Kansas.


Keep in mind that the 3-act structure is a simple outline. You can flesh it our more when you go on to develop the story outline. But these points help to get your thoughts and ideas into a logical order and to make sure you develop a strong, solid and coherent novel.