Tag Archive - Three-Act Structure

Ways Novelists Can Break from the Structural Rules

We’ve been looking at the downside to the three-act structure these last two weeks, and I’ve shared my thoughts on this.

Really, stories are basically a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and some writing instructors base their passion for the three-act structure on this. Meaning, since stories have a beginning, middle, and end, that must imply there are three acts.

You can use Aristotle’s concept and translate your idea into three acts: What is the first act? How the story begins. What is the second act? The middle of the story (which includes the main crisis of the dominant plot). The third act is the climax of the story and the resolution. Okay, it’s simplistic, but that’s how many justify the use of the three-act structure.

Doesn’t make sense to me. Continue Reading…

How to Break Up Your Novel into Definable Sections

Last week I started diving into the three-act structure and explained that such structure is random and arbitrary. While many writing instructors swear by this structure, I feel it’s too pat and restrictive to be a “one size fits all,” and, really, it’s the story that should determine how many acts it needs. And even with that, it’s up to the writer to decide if he wants to break his story up into acts or sections.

This isn’t just about “breaking up” a story or creating actual parts to a novel. While I’m going to share more examples of this, be aware that fashioning your story into sections is extremely helpful, and it’s something you can do without labeling them as such for your readers.

Sometimes, after I’ve put all my scene ideas on index cards (as many as I can think of for my novel I’m about to write), I’ll lay them all out on my dining table. Usually I have between thirty and fifty scene ideas before I start writing my general outline. Continue Reading…

What Writers May Not Know about the “Required” Three-Act Structure

I’m going to spend some weeks on tearing apart novel structure. I’ve hesitated over the years to get into this.

Why? Because there are tons of books and blog posts that cover story structure, and a lot of great ones too, so why should I add my two cents to the mix?

Because the longer I thought about it, the more I realized I have some unique approaches and twists to the standard three-act structure. Well, let’s just say I’m not always a team player on this court.

And, as well, I want to share with you a method of building your novel’s framework that I’m playing with. I call it the 10-20-30 Scene Builder. The purpose of using a “staged” or multilevel process is to help you flesh out that basic story idea you have. And one thing I’m excited about showing you is my special way of layering subplots. Continue Reading…