How to use the 27 Chapter Plot Structure

Learn to use the 27 Chapter Plot Structure to create a plot for your next novel! With examples from The Hunger Games!


Want a step-by-step guide to writing your first 60,000+ word novel? Then I’ve got the plot structure for you! Read on to learn about author Kat O’Keefe’s 27 Chapter Plot Structure!

What is the 27 Chapter Plot Structure?

The 3 Act, 9 Block, 27 Chapter Plot structure is a variation of the standard three-act structure. This structure differentiates from others by breaking down familiar story beats into 27 chapters to aid writers in creating a novel rather than a screenplay. Each of the 27 chapters in this structure has a specific job that pushes the narrative forward. 

How to use the 3 Act, 9 Block, 27 Chapter Structure 

Now that we’ve defined the structure let’s look at its component parts in greater detail. For reference, I’m using this post, written by O’Keefe, for my research; however, I’m also expanding on some beats used in other plot structures like the Three Act or the Hero’s Journey. If you’re familiar with other common plot structures, you’ll find a lot of overlap here. 

Let’s start with Act I and individually work through all 27 of O’Keefe’s story beats. After researching each story beat, you can begin outlining your novel!

How to use the 3 Act, 9 Block, 27 Chapter Structure


The First Act of this structure is in line with other plot outlines. Use this First Act to establish your characters, the world they live in, and the disruptive event that will begin the action of your story. 

Block 1 – introductions / inciting incident

Chapter 1: Introduction 

In the introduction of your story, you want to introduce your characters, spending the most care on establishing your protagonist. It would help if you highlighted a flaw or flaws that your protagonist must overcome by the end of your story. You also want to introduce other major or minor characters in your story. 

In addition to your characters, spend time describing their world. In many story structures, you’ll hear this described as the “Ordinary World” because it represents the world your character lives in and is comfortable in. They may not be happy in the ordinary world, but they’re not in danger of losing anything, and that is why they need a disruptive event to push them out of it. 

Let’s talk about that event. 

Chapter 2: Inciting Incident

If you want to read more about inciting events, we wrote an entire article on them which you can read here. But, like I said before, an inciting incident is an event that happens to your character- they have no control over it. This event forces them to leave their ordinary, safe world and begin a journey into a dangerous or threatening world. 


A great example of an inciting event comes from The Hunger Games when Katniss is forced to volunteer as her district’s tribute to save her sister. She is immediately ripped from her home and moved by the Capitol to compete in a deadly contest. 

If you need help writing your inciting incident, check out this writing exercise we’ve created. 

27 chapter example The Hunger Games

Chapter 3: Immediate Fallout

In chapter three, you’ll want to explore the immediate consequences of your story’s inciting incident. How does the event affect your character? At this point, your character hasn’t taken any steps to become a true hero, so they’re in a reactive state or maybe even a state of shock. 

Show readers that your inciting event is dramatic and has completely upended your protagonist’s life. Maybe the character has to leave their home and adapt to a new environment physically, or perhaps their home has changed drastically, like the death of a parent or the aftermath of a natural disaster. 

It would be best to show how your character’s world has changed in a way they’re unprepared to deal with. 


After Katniss volunteers for her sister, she is immediately dragged offstage and thrown into a dark room where she must say goodbye to her family. A sense of dread permeates the scene, as it is likely that Katniss will die during the games, and this is the last time any of her loved ones will see her. 

Block 2 – reaction/action/consequence

Chapter 4: Reaction

As I mentioned, your protagonist is in a reactive state during the aftermath of the inciting event. The character is trying to return to their ordinary world in the most direct and accessible route possible. They don’t understand yet that they can’t return to their everyday world; at least for now, they can’t. 

Chapter 5: Action 

Your main character will try and fail at this point to return to their everyday life. O’Keefe states that your objective, as the writer, is to show your readers who this character is under pressure. How do they react when things get tough? You’re adding dimension to the character you established in the exposition of your story. 


Katniss must demonstrate her talent with a bow for a group of Capitol game makers. She misses her first shot, and the game makers lose interest in her, so she fires her next arrow into the group pinning a man’s apple against the wall. This act shows she is both a crack shot and calm under pressure. 

27 Chapter Structure

Chapter 6: Consequence

Every action in your story should react. Your character may act and fail, make things worse for themselves, or discover that they won’t solve their problem without changing fundamentally. 

Block 3 – plot twist / break into second Act

Chapter 7: Pressure

O’Keeffe describes this beat as pressure building after the inciting incident. The character attempts to undo the changes caused by the inciting event, but they can’t keep up, and the pressure building pushes your character into the first major plot twist. 

Chapter 8: Plot Twist 

This plot twist is also described as a pinch, a beat also described in the Seven Point Story Structure. The first pinch of a story is usually when the main antagonist’s first appearance. To create a plot twist, you can introduce an unexpected antagonist. A character presented as a friend could be in league with your villain. Or, a calamitous force, like a hurricane, might appear from nowhere.  


Fireballs from within the arena force Katniss out of her hiding place. A group of career Tributes, and Peeta, chase her up a tree, but she drops a nest of Tracker Jackers on them. 

Chapter 9: Push 

The push occurs when the plot twist forces your character into their new world. Your character and readers are now fully immersed in the world of your story, and there’s no going back. 


The second Act of the three-act structure in storytelling is often the longest and most intricate section of a narrative. It is commonly called the “rising action” or the “confrontation.” In this Act, the initial setup and exposition from the first Act give way to a series of escalating conflicts, challenges, and obstacles that the protagonist must overcome in pursuit of their goals. 

The second Act delves deeper into character development, explores relationships, and introduces new twists and complications that intensify the central conflict.

Block 4 – fun & games / old vs. new

Chapter 10: The New World 

This block is where you, the writer, fulfill the “promise of the premise.” In Dan Harmon’s Story Circle, this is where you introduce the thing that would be most prominent on the book cover. He uses movie posters as an example. For instance, Jaws is a movie about a shark eating people, so in chapter 10, you want to get your characters out on a boat to chase that shark. 

Chapter 11: Fun & Games

This entire block aligns with what we can also call the rising action. This story beat is where the character tries multiple things to solve their problem. The character will experience minor successes and failures. This is a place in the story where you might insert fun things like a training sequence. They could play around with the positive or amusing aspects of the world. An excellent example of this comes from Twilight when Bella climbs onto Edward’s back, and they go zipping around the forest at superhuman speeds. 

Chapter 12: Old World Juxtaposition 

Give your characters a moment to process what happened to them and how different their new world is from where they came from. O’Keeffe mentions that the order of these beats doesn’t particularly matter, and there can be some blending of story beats in this block. 

Block 5 – midpoint/reversal

Chapter 13: Build-Up 

This beat is a build-up to the midpoint of your story. The midpoint is usually the highest point of tension in your story, outside of the third Act. Midpoints can be very different depending on the genre and tone of your story. However, this is the perfect place to insert a planning scene. Planning scenes are gold, mainly because the reader will intuitively know that the plan will go completely wrong. 

Chapter 14: Midpoint 

The midpoint of a fictional plot is a crucial point in the narrative where the story takes a significant turn, often marking the middle or approximate middle of the overall story arc. It serves as a pivotal moment that propels the plot forward and introduces new elements or conflicts that change the direction and intensity of the story.

Your character will experience a false victory or a false defeat. In this plot structure, the false resolution is called the reversal. 


Katniss teams up with another tribute- a young girl named Rue. Together they devise a plan to destroy a stockpile of supplies that the career tributes have gathered. Katniss successfully destroys the supplies. 

Chapter 15: Reversal 

As discussed above, the character will experience either a false victory or defeat during the midpoint. In the aftermath of the midpoint, create a story beat that will reverse the character’s fortunes. 

If they lost something at the midpoint, they might realize that in losing, they’ve gained something more substantial- like a shiny new weapon, or more often, a unique insight on how they might solve their problem. 

In a false victory, your character may achieve their goal at the cost of something significant. The most impactful way to achieve a false victory is to kill off an important character like an alley or mentor. You may also end a meaningful relationship at this point so that the hero loses an ally without the life-or-death stakes of a serious genre- not many characters die in a romcom, for instance. 


When Katniss returns, Rue is killed in front of her. Katniss kills the tribute who murdered Rue. 

Block 6 – trials/dedication

Chapter 16: Reaction 

This beat sees your hero reacting to their midpoint. Remember, win or lose, your character lost something significant at your story’s midpoint. This section is dedicated to how your character reacts to that midpoint.

Chapter 17: Trials 

Your hero may have thought the midpoint was the end of the story, but they still have a long way to go. At this beat, your character will encounter more roadblocks. However, your protagonist has come out of the midpoint changed. 

Move your hero from reactive to proactive by showing them taking matters into their own hands. They will start to attack their problem head-on. Here is where your character begins to develop into the hero of their story. 

Chapter 18: Dedication 

At this point, your character finds their resolve. The hero dedicates themself to solving their problem. In a movie, this would be when the music swells, and the hero stares into the distance and makes some dramatic declaration. 

27 Chapter Structure Infographic:

27 Chapter Structure infographic


The third Act of the three-act structure in storytelling is often referred to as the “resolution” or the “falling action.” It is the culmination of the narrative, where the conflicts and tensions reach their peak and begin to be resolved. In this Act, the protagonist confronts the main obstacle or antagonist and undergoes a final transformation or realization. 

The third Act is marked by a series of pivotal events, leading to the ultimate resolution of the central conflict. It may involve a decisive battle, a confrontation, a crucial decision, or a revelation that brings about a change in the protagonist’s situation. This Act ties up loose ends, provides closure to character arcs, and offers a satisfying conclusion. 

It allows the audience to experience a sense of catharsis and emotional resolution, leaving them with a lasting impression and a sense of fulfillment.

Block 7 – plot twist / darkest moment

Chapter 19: The Calm Before the Storm

Use the beat to give your character and readers a bit of rest before all the chaos of the third and resolution. This beat is a good place to insert a character moment or two where people interact with each other and show how they’ve grown as individuals, as a couple, or as a team. This beat is when your character can reflect on all they’ve been through to reach this point. 

Chapter 20: Plot Twist 

This plot twist is also known as pinch two in other structures. This plot twist comes in the form of a significant defeat for your character. Your character’s plans fall through; all is lost!

Chapter 21: Darkest Moment

Your hero has hit their lowest point. This beat seems like the end of a tragic tale. Your protagonist has come all this way, only to lose it all in the final moments. If your character were still the person they were before the inciting incident, they would give up now. 

Block 8 – power within / converge

Chapter 22: The Power Within

Your hero is NOT the person they were at the story’s beginning! At this point in the story, the protagonist finds the strength to bounce back from their lowest moment. Show your audience the positive transformation that has occurred in your character. 

Chapter 23: Action

In this story beat, show your character rallying the troops, developing a new plan, and springing into action. Your hero’s action will drive the plot through the rest of the story. 

Chapter 24: Converge

Your hero’s action will also bring together your story’s plot threads. The A plot and B plot will converge at this moment. 

Block 9 – battle/climax/resolution

Chapter 25: The Final Battle 

Your hero and the antagonist now square off for the showdown. The stakes of the battle are life and death. The death may be symbolic or metaphorical, but the point is your hero is all in. 


Wolf-like creatures chase Katniss and Peeta to the center of the arena. They encounter Cato, the last surviving career tribute. Cato captures Peeta, but Katniss shoots him with a bow. Cato falls, and the creatures maul him to death. 

Cato and Katniss

Chapter 26: The Climax 

The climax is the highest point of tension, where your hero faces their greatest challenge. If you’re writing a tragedy, this is where your hero will succumb to some fatal character flaw. But you’re probably not writing a tragedy, so let’s talk about how your hero can triumph satisfactorily. 

Show your hero winning by overcoming their fatal character flaw. What’s the one trait that has held your character back their entire journey? The fault could be pride, fear, or jealousy; it doesn’t matter. When your character finally achieves victory, it should be because they’ve learned to overcome their shortcomings. 


The game makers rescind their offer of allowing for two champions. In response, Katniss and Peeta choose to eat poison berries and rob the Capitol of a final victor. 

Chapter 27: The Resolution

We’ve reached the “happily ever after” portion of the narrative. Show how your character’s life has changed for the better. The hero may return to their ordinary world at this point, but they could choose not to. Tie up all your loose ends, and be sure to wrap up any lingering plot threads. 


The Capitol intervenes in Katniss’s and Peeta’s suicide pact and allows both tributes to live. 

Katniss and Peeta berries

That’s all I got for the 27 Chapter Structure, but if you’d like to read more, check out these other articles on plot!

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