Posted by: nancyisanders | May 26, 2015

Chapter Book: Plotting Your Mentor Text

Mentor Text Plot of Stink

Do you know what the three-act structure is?

Basically, it divides every story into a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Over the years, I’ve developed a worksheet that I call:
Basic Plot Worksheet A. It helps me plan out the plot structure of my children’s stories, both fiction and nonfiction.

You can download and print out this worksheet by visiting my site, Writing According to Humphrey and Friends. Scroll down the page to CHARTS AND WORKSHEETS TO GET ORGANIZED FOR SUCCESS and click on the “Basic Plot Worksheet A.”

As you can see from the worksheet, the beginning takes up about a fourth of the picture book. In the 3-act structure, the beginning is called Act I.

The middle takes up about half of the picture book. In a 3-act structure, the middle is called Act II. There’s a first half of Act II and a second half of Act II.

Then the ending takes up about a fourth of the picture book. In a 3-act structure, the end is called Act III.

In most chapter books, you’ll find this same structure, so if you pattern your story after this structure, it will be stronger from the get-go.

(A note here…if you google the 3-act structure or even read plotting books or articles about the 3-act structure, you’ll find a lot of authors who say they don’t like the 3-act structure and it’s not needed so don’t follow it.)
• HOWEVER!!! And this is a big however!!!!!
• I have yet to meet the EDITOR who says toss out the 3-act structure. Every single editor I’ve ever worked with when it comes to discussing the plot of a children’s story, they say to use the 3-act structure.
• So am I going to listen to those other authors, even if they’re bestselling and popular? Or am I going to listen to the editors?
• You can bet I’m going to listen to the editors. Because that’s who I want to fall in love with my book so much they’ll publish it. Therefore, I use the 3-act structure.)

Let’s look a little bit closer at the Basic Plot Worksheet.
There are 3 significant changes that occur in a story that follows the 3-act structure:
1. You can see that there is a significant change that occurs at the end of the Act I to usher in the middle, or Act II.
2. There’s a significant change that occurs in the middle of Act II and this also occurs in the middle of the entire book.
3. Plus, there’s a significant change that occurs at the end of Act II to usher in the end, or Act III.

As you can see at the top of this post, I went through our mentor text, Stink #1 and plotted its chart with the three-act structure. You can download it and print it out so you have a copy to refer to.

Use it as a guide to plot these basic plot points for the chapter book YOU are working on!

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Responses

  1. I had time today to read the Stink book 1 this afternoon. Yea, so now I understand everything you’re saying with the plot for Stink. Such a cute book. My son read the whole series, which we have.

    • Glad you finally had the time to read this! Glad it’s making sense. Don’t you love the voice, too?


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