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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 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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 :

Rising Action

Explanation (backstory)

Climax

Falling Action

Resolution

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.

 You can also interact with the podcast on Gab @duringthebluehour

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