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by Laurie Halse Anderson

Analysis: Three-Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

Act I starts with our introduction to Melinda and her problems. We know her friends are against her. We know something bad happened to her, and we know it involves Andy Evans, but we don't know what. Act I ends as Melinda embarks on her first school-skipping adventure of the somewhat dangerous kind.

Act II

Act II follows Melinda down that dark road to delinquency. Skipping school. Bad grades. In-school suspension – with Andy Evans. That's enough to scare her straight back to good attendance. Act II ends with Melinda discovering the fabulous art of Pablo Picasso.


Act III starts on a positive note. Melinda gets a ride from Mr. Freeman and he offers to listen to her problems if she ever wants to talk about them. Wow. He's the first person to do this. The act features Melinda starting to tell others about the rape, fighting off Andy when he tries to rape her again, drawing an A+ tree, and reconnecting with family and friends. It ends with her starting to confide in Mr. Freeman.

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