5 ACT STRUCTURES TO HELP WRITE YOUR NOVEL
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When I was in film school I was always told this about writing. A writer is like an architect . A script and manuscript is the blueprint for the story; the schematics.
Within the schematics there are what you call the structures or foundation of the stories that you build or create. Usually the beginning , middle and end . Within novel writing and screenwriting this is called act structure. Act structure is always important when writing your novel or screenplay. Without it or done incorrectly as the writer you have no story. The foundation or the blueprint breaks apart entirely.
There are many ways to build a structure for your story and it all boils down to how you plan the blueprint of your story within your novel or screenplay.
My many years of learning about writing has taught me there are close to over 7 different types of act structures.
I was only taught and experimented with 5 and so those are the act structures I will discuss and then I will tell you what my favorite act structure is and why.
The very first structure I’m going to talk about is a structure I’m sure every writer has heard of before. It is the most basic structure of them all . And you learn elements of this act structure when you are in grade school. This act structure
is called the THREE ACT STRUCTURE
- THREE ACT STRUCTURE
Like I said the three act structure is the most basic one of them all . This act structure goes back all the way into antiquity. The Ancient Greeks made it prevalent and Hollywood took it and ran with it making it the most popular, simplest and favorite writing formula of them all.
The three act structure has this formula .
ACT 1 The Set-Up
Where you introduce your character and establish the setting of your story
ACT 2 The Confrontation
Where the problem of the story arises and becomes bigger and even more dangerous by the page . There is no clear resolution.
ACT 3 The Resolution
Where all the problems and conflicts of the story is tied up in a neat bow and resolved .
See this act structure is very simple . But the act structures continue to get a little complicated . The next act structure sort of close to the three act structure is called Snowflake Method
2. Snowflake Method
The snowflake method is more for if you’re the type of writer who outlines. So for outliners . It was created and first used by Randy Ingermanson and has 10 steps . Basically you start with a central idea and build upon it with paragraphs. If you want to know more about it visit here…..
The next act structure that writers can use to write their novel is the
3. The 7-Point Story Structure
This act structure gets a little bit more complicated but with patience it turns out well . With this act structure you have to start at the end with your resolution and until you get to the beginning. Basically you go backwards . This is to reassure that you start strong with your main character arc and only build upon the core instances of your story. It involves these 7 points :
Hook — Where your character starts out .
Plot turn 1 — The event that sets your story in motion and moves you from the beginning and introduces the conflict where your character’s world changes. This is basically when you character sets out on his/her journey.
Pinch point 1 — where the antagonist shows up
Midpoint — your character will make a decision about what to do with the antagonist
Pinch point 2 — everything gets worst for your main character
Plot turn 2 — your character findds new information to stop the antagonist.
Resolution — The climax of the story. The ultimate show down between the main character and the antagonist.
If you think the above two structures are harder you going to hold your breath for the next one . Because it involves the HERO’S JOURNEY.
- HERO’S JOURNEY
The hero’s journey can be similar to the 7 point structure but it involves a much greater writing formula. Created by and first used by Joseph Campbell. The heroes journey is most commonly used by fantasy and sci-fi writers and is created for your main character to come full circle in his journey but show their apparent change in the end . The formula of the hero’s journey includes 12 steps inside of 3 stages instead of 7 points :
1. The Departure : your hero emarks on a journey away from their ordinary world .
1 — Ordinary World – your hero’s everyday life .
2 — The Call to Adventure- hero’s world is turned upside down and can never be the same again
3 — Refusal of the Call- your hero hesitates . The refuse the adventure
4 — Meeting With the Mentor- A mentor helps them see the light at the end of the tunnel . Usually at this point encourages to take the call to adventure.
5 — Crossing the First Threshold – your hero gets the courage to go forward with the adventure. They can’t turn back at this point.
- Initiation: Your hero comes across their real and very first obstacle . And is highly challenged.
6 — Tests, Allies, and Enemies- the hero meets the ones they trust and faces trials and tribulations
7 — Approach to the Inmost Cave – the hero intercept hidden dangers and must them head on.
8 — The Ordeal- the hero faces their darkest hour
9 — Reward (Seizing the Sword) your hero finally defeats their enemies
- Return : the hero enters their normal world again. They can come on home finally. The end .
10 — The Road Back- The hero is tricked and deceived. The battle is hardly finished .
11 — The Resurrection- Since the battle is not over the hero faces the most horrifying threat yet
12 — Return With the Elixir- the hero has changed . Their ordinary world is not so ordinary anymore. They have made it back home triumphally.
Whew ! That was a long one and most writers might find it the most difficult structure to use but there is one more act structure . This structure is called In Medias Res
- In Medias Res
In medias Res means in the mists of things and it usually used in film as a film technique. In a novel that means just jumping into the action of things.
The formula consist of :
So these are the five act structures I have learned and experimented with over the years . My favorite act structure is the hero’s journey. Can it be any obvious . I write scifi and fantasy. I like the hero’s journey because it has so many in ‘s and outs to the creation of a story. And I love the fairytale aspect of the structure where you have all the archetypes there to use and take from.
I use a combination of the three act structure and heroes journey in my work in progress novel During the Blue Hour. While writing my novel the hero’s journey can be seen within the overall book series that I have planned for and set up but I use it in smaller pockets within the first novel where it concerns my main character Sirena.
Book 1 DURING THE BLUE HOUR – is the departure
Book 2 DURING THE TWILIGHT HOUR will be the Initiation
Book 3 DURING THE GOLDEN HOUR will be the Return
If you liked this blog post and you want to see more content involving my work in progress During the Blue Hour Follow , Like , share . But first LET’S START A DIALOGUE
What Act structure do you use or have used to write your novel?
I want to know so let me know in the comments below.
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