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Three types of story arcs

Three arc types | Harry Potter

Story arcs are the overarching structures that define the progression of a narrative. There are several ways to categorize them, but one common classification involves three main types of story arcs: the “Three-Act Structure,” the “Hero’s Journey,” and the “In Media Res” or “Mid-action” story arc. These arcs offer different approaches to creating engaging and satisfying narratives.

  1. Three-Act Structure:
    • Act 1 (Setup): This is where the characters, setting, and central conflict are introduced. It establishes the status quo and introduces the story’s main characters and their goals or desires.
    • Act 2 (Confrontation): The story’s main conflict intensifies, and characters face obstacles and challenges. Subplots may be introduced, and the characters’ development and growth become evident.
    • Act 3 (Resolution): This is the climax and resolution of the story. The main conflict is addressed, and loose ends are tied up. It often concludes with a satisfying resolution for the characters.

How to use it: The Three-Act Structure provides a clear and easily digestible narrative framework, making it a popular choice for many stories. It helps build tension and allows for character development as the plot unfolds.

Three Act Structure
  1. Hero’s Journey:
    • The Call to Adventure: The hero receives a call to action, often leaving their ordinary world behind.
    • Initiation: The hero faces trials, meets mentors and allies, and ultimately confronts a major challenge or enemy.
    • Return and Transformation: After overcoming the central conflict, the hero returns to their ordinary world, transformed by their experiences.

How to use it: The Hero’s Journey is a powerful and timeless structure that resonates with audiences because it reflects the universal theme of personal growth and transformation. It’s especially useful for epic and fantasy narratives.

Hero’s Journey
  1. In Media Res (Mid-action) Story Arc:
    • Begin in the Middle of the Action: The story starts in the midst of a crucial event or conflict, often without extensive setup or exposition.
    • Flashbacks and Exposition: As the story progresses, it includes flashbacks or exposition to provide context and background information.
    • Resolution: The narrative eventually reaches a satisfying conclusion, often tying back to the initial action.

How to use it: Starting in media res can immediately engage the audience and raise questions, which can drive the narrative forward. It’s particularly effective for stories that benefit from a sense of mystery and intrigue.

All Purpose Guide

In addition to the three main story arcs, other groupings in threes you can explore in storytelling include:

  1. Character Archetypes:
    • The Hero
    • The Mentor
    • The Villain
  2. Narrative Points of View:
    • First Person
    • Second Person
    • Third Person
  3. Conflict Types:
    • Man vs. Self
    • Man vs. Nature
    • Man vs. Society

Video – Kurt Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories

These storytelling elements can be mixed and matched to create unique and engaging narratives, depending on the type of story you want to tell and the impact you want to have on your audience.

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How to triple your memory by using this trick Ricardo Lieuw On TEDxHaarlem

Triple your memory | Tedx

Do you recall studying for your exams? You probably do. But do you remember how you studied, how you memorized French words or the year of the American civil war? Now, that’s probably harder. As a teenager, Ricardo Lieuw On was packing groceries when he knew what he wanted to study: he wanted to learn about learning. He picked up a study in psychology and learned how to reduce his learning time from 3 hours to 1 hour on the same piece of content. He gained the same knowledge in 200% less time. And specially for TEDxHaarlem, he shares the secret of his technique. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

How to triple your memory by using this trick Ricardo Lieuw On TEDxHaarlem


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What is First Second Third Person


Each person in grammar represents a different perspective or point of view (POV) in a narrative. First person includes the speaker (English: I, we, me, and us), second person is the person or people spoken to (English: you), and third person includes all that are not listed above (English: he, she, it, they, him, her, them, the people). It also frequently affects verbs, and sometimes nouns or possessive relationships.

  • First Person POV (I am experencing it) – “My heart leaped into my throat as I turned and saw a frightening shadow.”
  • Second Person POV (putting you into the story) – “You turn and see a frightening shadow.”
  • Third Person POV (about a group) – “They turned and saw the frightening shadow.

The First-Person Point of View

When you write or speak in the first person, you are telling your own thoughts or ideas or those of a group you belong to. The following are examples of self-directed statements:

I arrived at the party before the other guests did.
There was a ticket waiting for me at the counter.
This has always been a favorite movie for us.

The Second-Person Point of View

The second person addresses the audience whether it is one person or many people:

You are my best friend.
You can feel good about the way you played today.
You all deserve credit for the company’s performance this quarter.

The Third-Person Point of View

We will use the third person to refer to someone or something that is either not us or not an audience we’re addressing:

After leaving late from the meeting, she had to run to catch the bus.
They should be careful when walking around that puddle.
It wouldn’t start because the battery was dead.

The following general guidelines might be helpful in making choices

  • First-person points of view tend to be more descriptive and individual.
  • The second person is usually recognized as more intimate, immediate, and persuasive.
  • Third-person perspectives create more distance and often feel more rational.

By experimenting with different voices in your writing, you’ll learn to use each effectively as it suits your intentions. An essay may be most powerful in the first person, for example, while a science-fiction short story might explore new possibilities in the third person.

The three main types of third-person point of view

By Richard Nordquist
Updated on May 30, 2019

In a work of fiction or nonfiction, the “third-person point of view” relates events using third-person pronouns such as “he,” “she,” and “they.” The three main types of third-person point of view are:

  • Third-person objective: The facts of a narrative are reported by a seemingly neutral, impersonal observer or recorder. For an example, see “The Rise of Pancho Villa” by John Reed.
  • Third-person omniscient: An all-knowing narrator not only reports the facts but may also interpret events and relate the thoughts and feelings of any character. The novels “Middlemarch” by George Eliot and “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White employ the third-person-omniscient point of view.
  • Third-person limited: A narrator reports the facts and interprets events from the perspective of a single character. For an example, see Katherine Mansfield’s short story “Miss Brill.”

In addition, a writer may rely on a “multiple” or “variable” third-person point of view, in which the perspective shifts from that of one character to another during the course of a narrative.


Learn English | Pronouns