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What are Two Key Structures for Writing a Trilogy?

Two Key Structures for a Trilogy

How do you plot and plan a trilogy? Based on last week’s blog, we learned about the three popular ways to structure your series: Dynamic, Static, and Anthology. Here is a quick recap on that to jump into the Two KEY structures for a Trilogy.


People are the most familiar with this style (and it is a GREAT way to tell a story). The main character goes on a journey in book one as one person and emerges at the end of each book changed until the transformation is complete at the final book. The main character, through physical and external challenges, experiences internal changes. They are forced to overcome their weaknesses, fears, flaws, or victimhood. Now mind you, the secondary characters can experience growth in all of these aspects and should, to a degree, make the dynamic trilogy work.


Your character is established and doesn’t undergo any emotional change. Still, they keep firm to who they are while facing all the craziness about them: doubts, fears, temptations throughout the trilogy. This is known as the static arc, and it is well known in series like Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, or

Agatha Christie’s novels.

Think about Sherlock and Dr. Watson. We know who is the leader and who is the support. We see Sherlock’s brilliance and madness and the calm yet feisty Dr. Watson’s strength to balance Sherlock. Together with their well-established characteristics, we as the reader can go through mystery after mystery, knowing that they will help us to solve the challenge. There is real adventure in this.


The fantasyland or setting drives this series. Each book can stand alone, and sometimes the characters can jump in and out of books, but you don’t have to read these in order.

Think about how the Chronicles of Narnia works. If you don’t read the first book, you are not lost to how the White Witch came about; you accept her. However, if you want to learn her back story, you go back and read the first book.

Ready for today’s KEY STRUCTURES?

Two Key Structures for a Trilogy

How do you plot and plan a trilogy? What makes a trilogy popular? It’s the ease that a reader can fall into the story and not put it down. The story and characters have captured the reader emotionally (positively or negatively), and the reader emerges from the time invested in your book with questions, growth, satisfaction, and wanting more. Authors, this is your job to satisfy and impact your readers.

Marketing Tip: Develop keywords, themes, and topics and check them out through or through to know what type of book you should write before writing it. That way, you can build your email list of fans, take them along your writing journey, and when it is time to launch— you have an audience ready to buy your work.

Let’s break it into two manageable sections so that you can focus on the story to have your readers come begging for more.


Each book is broken into a beginning, middle, and end. The central conflict in each book is resolved . . .almost. There are hints and threads of tension carrying into each book to bring the cohesiveness together.

Meanwhile, there is a larger conflict that the readers know about, and it slowly plays out its own beginning, middle, and end throughout the series. I can see why it is called complex! But look at the breakdown example with The Hunger Games Trilogy, and you will see what I mean.

First, I break these complex arcs into a Seven/Eight plot structure credit given to Dan Wells and Syd Field.

Ordinary World (Start with Lack)

Inciting Incident (Call to adventure and something changes)

1st Plot Point (No return) The MC and characters are forced into the Action

1st Pinch Point (1st run-in with the antagonist—they survive but at a cost).

Midpoint (Shift from Victim to Warrior)

2nd Pinch Point (second "battle" or struggle)

2nd plot Twist (Dark night of the soul—the reader guesses you are quitting)

Final Battle/Resolution (the MC triumphs and gains knowledge).

This structure is found in all three books, with the overarching theme starting in book one, taking it to the middle in book two, and the final triumph in book three!

The Hunger Games book one plotted. (The Beginning)

Ordinary World: district 12, we are introduced to Katniss, her family, Gale, the poverty.

Inciting Incident: The reaping and Katniss volunteers as tribute

1st Plot Point: Fake romance (that lasts through the whole series)

1st Pinch Point:

Forced to flee her safety because of fire/tributes plot to kill

Midpoint: Katniss teams up with Rue

2nd Pinch Point: Rue is killed, and Katniss shows her rebelliousness to Snow

2nd plot Twist: Game Makers change the rules. They all team up, and three are left.

Final Battle Cato, Katniss, and Peeta fight to the end. Katniss and Peeta agree to end the games and eat the berries together. The Game makers end it, and two winners are declared. The love theme continues, for their lives are at stake. Snow will not let them get away with it….onto book two!

Catching Fire Book Two (the Middle)

Ordinary World: Katniss returns to hunt, and Peeta is


Inciting Incident: Snow talks with her at her house and questions her about the love story.

1st Plot Point: Victory tour and a hint of the rebellion happens

1st Pinch Point: Quarter quell TWIST play against the victors.

Midpoint: Team ups and Allies

2nd Pinch Point: The Quarter Quell is the battle for the rebellion to start. District 13 to come out

2nd plot Twist: Peeta is captured. The bombing of District 12 complete, Gale saved family,

Final Battle: The Game maker, Coin, started the rebellion, and Katniss becomes the rebellion’s face. Katniss’s love/friendship for Peeta has awakened, and the drive to get Peeta back for the rebellion has begun. District 13 is real, Snow will not let Katniss win, and the stage is set for book 3.

The Mockingjay Book Three (The End)

Ordinary World: We discover the world of District 13, Coin, and all the key characters are added.

Inciting Incident: The rebellion is on, and Peeta is forced to ask for a cease-fire. Katniss agrees to be the Mocking Jay

1st Plot Point: Propo in District 8 and the bombing of the hospital by the Capital

1st Pinch Point: They can get Peeta out

Midpoint: There is no return. Katniss will fight against Snow to the end

2nd Pinch Point: Katniss is shot during a live event allowing her death to force the rebels to stop, but it doesn’t work.

2nd plot Twist: Peeta joins the team t0

Final Battle: Gale’s bombs kill the children and Katniss’s sister by accident, the capital’s capture is complete, and Katniss shoots COIN instead of Snow.

Resolve: the leader then governs Panem from district 8, and years, Katniss and Peeta can have a life of peace. It’s now complete. The story and the theme worked through the entire story.

Remember a few key points to a complex arc (found many times in the dynamic trilogy) that you must start at the end and reverse engineer the theme to work through all three books. If you are looking for specific supports with this, I have a writing course that releases in Feb 2021 that addresses how to do this. If you can’t wait till Feb, contact me, and we can do coaching consult about it


Lord the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is the perfect example of a single story broken into three parts that act as a single work. Like a three-act play—25% of the story in the beginning, 50% in the middle, and 25% at the end, but it’s broken into three installments. The ending of two of the three books has questions and cliffhangers that propel the reader forward. For readers, the same plot arcs are used through the three books, and many of the conflicts are not resolved until the VERY end.

Example of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Book One Fellowship of the Ring: Frodo Baggins learns that he possesses the One Ring, which must be taken to Mordor to be destroyed. (But he has no idea how

this will work but goes out obediently). He has a fellowship to help him, and he sets out on his quest. The book ends on a cliffhanger when the fellowship is broken, and Frodo must leave behind all but his best friend Sam so that the Ring does corrupt them.

Book two The Two Towers: The trilogy continues with Frodo and Sam and a new creature, Gollum, who

has sworn to help them find their way to Mordor. Unfortunately, Gollum has been driven mad by the ring’s power and plots against them to win the ring back. The broken fellowship is searching for Merry and Pippin, while we learn of the fate of Gandalf. Frodo and Sam make it to Mordor but get captured.

Book Three The Return of the King: Sam’s strength rescues Frodo

from the enemy. Together they make the final perilous journey to destroy the ring. The Fellowship has banned together with the power of what is left of Middle Earth to distract Sauron. At last, the RING is destroyed, The King returns to Middle Earth, freedom reigns, and Frodo returns home.

Marketing Tip: Develop keywords, themes, and topics and check them out through or through to know what type of book you should write before writing it. That way, you can build your email list of fans, take them along your writing journey, and when it is time to launch— you have an audience ready to buy your work.

OVERALL Plan for the Trilogy

If you are going to plan a trilogy using the Complex Arc, remember that the overall plan for the books will have book one as the beginning, book two as the middle, and book three as the climax and resolve.

More ways to Plot your Trilogy

There are other ways to plot your trilogy; really, the possibilities are endless. HOWEVER, I’m breaking things down into a structure that helps you to write. Finding your own way can happen, but don’t waste the time you have fighting through the war of words. Use your brilliance on a marked path and see where it can take you.

Well, that’s everything! Hahaha! I’m lying. There is so much more to add to the story. Stay tuned for next week. Plan your Trilogy . . . Just a deeper dive. It’s all about the Character.

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