Number One. The Back Story haunts the central character.

Number Two. The Catalyst gets the character moving. It’s part of the story’s setup.

Number Three. The Big Event changes the character’s life.

Number Four. The Midpoint is the point of no return or a moment of deep motivation.

Number Five. The Crisis is the low point, or an event that forces the key decision that leads to your story’s end.

Number Six. The Climax or Showdown is the final face-off between your central character and the opposition.

Number Seven. The Realization occurs when your character and/or the audience sees that the character has changed or has realized something.


These are the seven beats, but I thought about it and sometimes you start from the midpoint and sometimes your main character doesn't really change, so I am wondering if there are alternative ways of insuring your story is good instead of following this archetype.

Can you ignore the 7 main beats of the story, what are some alternatives?

  • 2
    This reminds me a bit of the "Hero's_journey", except Campbell went as far as breaking it down into 17 stages. (I'm not particularly a fan of his book, though. Too Freudian for my taste.)
    – user54131
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


These aren't "the 7 main beats of the story". This is one writer's particular way of describing the outline of a story. There are hundreds of other methods of doing this.

What they're describing is the three act structure, and despite claims to the contrary, the three act structure is hardly universal. The five act structure is older, for example. Sure, it's largely another way of describing the same thing--my objection to these structures isn't about the structures themselves, but about those who present it as "this is the only way to structure a story".

And, as you say, it's not completely rigid. You can change various elements. The end does not have to involve the character changing--the traditional structure for a tragedy is largely the same until the end, where instead the character fails to change, and suffers (and usually dies) as a result.

You may notice that they refer pretty much entirely to movies--that's because a structure this simplistic is really only helpful for short form storytelling. For something like a full television series or a novel, you'll want a structure that goes into more detail.

  • 1
    Could you provide some reference to the three act and five act structures?
    – Sayaman
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 19:10
  • 1
    @Sayaman Both have been written about very extensively. I personally don't like the three act structure much, so I won't recommend anything in particular. As for the five act structure, my favourite explanation is given by Will Storr in "The Science of Storytelling" Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 19:12
  • Don't put this one as an answer too soon. It's much too general. Need to detail other structures explicitly
    – empty
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 17:43
  • @empty There are literally thousands of other structures or ways of thinking about structures. Which in particular do you think need more details? Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 18:47
  • @CliffExcellent If there's thousands of other structures start with the 5-7 basic categories.
    – empty
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 0:25

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