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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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Louie Prima Vesion

“Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” is a 1936 song, with music and lyrics by Louis Prima, who first recorded it with the New Orleans Gang. Brunswick Records released it on February 28, 1936 on the 78 rpm record format, with “It’s Been So Long” as the B-side. The song is strongly identified with the big band and swing eras. Several have performed the piece as an instrumental, including Fletcher Henderson and, most famously, Benny Goodman.

Benny Goodman Version

On July 6, 1937, “Sing, Sing, Sing” was recorded in Hollywood with Benny Goodman on clarinet; Gene Krupa on drums; Harry James, Ziggy Elman, and Chris Griffin on trumpets; Red Ballard and Murray McEachern on trombones; Hymie Schertzer and George Koenig on alto saxophones; Art Rollini and Vido Musso on tenor saxophone; Jess Stacy on piano; Allan Reuss on guitar; and Harry Goodman on bass. The song was arranged by Jimmy Mundy. Unlike most big band arrangements of that era, limited in length to three minutes so that they could be recorded on one side of a standard 10-inch 78-rpm record, the version which Goodman’s band recorded was an extended work. The 1937 recording lasted 8 minutes and 43 seconds, and it took up both sides of a 12-inch 78.

Video – Louis Prima | original recording 1936

Louis Prima Version of Sing, Sing, Sing


Sing, sing, sing, everybody start to sing like dee dee dee, bah bah bah dah
Now you’re singin with a swing
Sing sing sing everybody start to sing like dee dee dee, bah bah bah dah
Now you’re singin like everything

When the music goes around
Everybody’s gonna go to town
But here is one thing you should know
Sing it high and sing it low
Oh, sing sing sing sing everybody start to sing like dee dee dee, bah bah bah dah
Now you’re singin with a real good swing!

Video from ”Swing Kids (1993)” – Benny Goodman music track

Video from ”Swing Kids (1993)” – Benny Goodman music track

“Sing, Sing, Sing (introducing Christopher Columbus)”

Ross Firestone says that the 1937 recording “bore only the slightest resemblance to the original score.” Helen Ward said that the changes started spontaneously: “One night Gene just refused to stop drumming when he got to the end of the third chorus, where the tune was supposed to end, so Benny blithely picked up the clarinet and noodled along with him. Then someone else stood up and took it, and it went on from there.” Firestone says the elements from “Christopher Columbus” were added this way. The title of the number as given on the Goodman recordings acknowledges the additional tune – “Sing, Sing, Sing (introducing Christopher Columbus)”.

Source: WikiPedia

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The Browns | Three Bells

The Browns | The Three Bells

Another name given for “The Three Bells” was “Jimmy Brown” or “Little Jimmy Brown.” As such, the song recounts the three stages on Jimmy Brown’s life including his birth, marriage, and death. A top contry hit in 1959. Bells can symbolize beginnings and endings, a call to order, or even a command or a warning. Here at Bell, the symbol of our bell encompasses all of these.

The song is an English adaptation of the French language song “Les Trois Cloches” written by Jean Villard, with English lyrics by Bert Reisfeld. The single reached number one in the U.S. on Billboard’s Hot C&W Sides chart[2] and the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1959.


There’s a village hidden deep in the valley
Among the pine trees half forlorn
And there on a Sunny morning
Little Jimmy Brown was born

All the chapel bells were ringing
In the little valley town
And the song that they were singing
Was for baby Jimmy Brown

Then the little congregation
Prayed for guidance from above
“Lead us not into temptation
Bless this hour of meditation
Guide him with eternal love”

There’s a village hidden deep in the valley
Beneath the mountains high above
And there, twenty years thereafter
Jimmy was to meet his love

All the chapel bells were ringing
Was a great day in his life
‘Cause the song that they were singing
Was for Jimmy and his wife

Then the little congregation
Prayed for guidance from above
“Lead us not into temptation
Bless oh Lord, this celebration
May their lives be filled with love”

From the village hidden deep in the valley
One rainy morning dark and gray
A soul winged its way to heaven
Jimmy Brown had passed away

Just a lonely bell was ringing
In the little valley town
‘Twas farewell that it was singing
To our good old Jimmy Brown

And the little congregation
Prayed for guidance from above
“Lead us not into temptation
May his soul find the salvation
Of thy great eternal love”

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Bert Reisfeld / Jean Villard

The Three Bells lyrics © Peermusic Musikverlag G.m.b.h., Les Nouvelles Edi.meridian