Tag: how to write a novel

Character Profile Sheets (CPS) – Part 2

Character Profile Sheets are a great literary tool that help you in profiling your characters, especially the main characters of your story. They not only help you in being consistent with your character’s traits throughout your story or manuscript but also help a great deal in creating as well as painting the character arc you desire for your story.

Generally, a Character Profile Sheets consists of the main physical, mental, emotional and social traits of your character’s life and personality along with their general likes and dislikes, their taste in music, their occupation, and stuff like what they like to eat, what they don’t their allergies and different kind of health issues, etc, etc, etc. Basically, your Character Profile Sheet consists of everything about your character.

Character Profile Sheets can be as long or as short as your want them to be, but my advice would be to keep them detailed because detailed Character Profile Sheets lead to good characters and good characters leads to good characterisation. 

Another great thing about Character Profile Sheets is that it greatly helps if you get stuck in a writing slump. Working your characters is a great way to jump start your brain to getting into the right mindset to start writing again.

Check out my video on Character Profile Sheets on YouTube or listen to its podcast on iTunes.

When it comes to Character Profile Sheets there are three things that you need to remember:

  1. If you are a punster then start with a basic Character Profile Sheet to begin with and add details as you go further because starting with a detailed Character Profile Sheet can be very overwhelming. But if you are a plotter then you can straight away start with a detailed Character Profile Sheet.
  2. No matter how long or short your character profile sheet is or how detailed or summarised it is always make room for character’s background in it because character background is very, very, very important an you need to be consistent with it throughout your story. Take it from someone who has written a book with a lot of characters, always make a room for character background in your Character Profile Sheet.
  3. Your Character Profile Sheet will evolve as you make progress with your manuscript so always keep on revising your Character Profile Sheet along with each and every single draft of your story. Otherwise, there’ll be either no point of maintaining a Character Profile Sheet or it’ll get too confusing for you and ruin your manuscript.

So that’s Character Profile Sheets for you. If you want a ready reference with links to some really good Character Profile Sheets then read this article – Character Profile Sheets (the links are the end of the article.)

If you have any questions or doubts or want to discuss Character Profile Sheets with me then leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Here are some more writing-related articles:

Thanks a lot for reading!

The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction

 

As almost all the plotters would swear by, outlining a story helps a writer greatly in making sense of the story for the readers. We, as writers, know what our story is and how it plays out, the difficult bit is to put in into words in a systematic way and have it make sense to its readers the same way that it does for us. And this is where the story structures come into play.

I used to consider myself a hardcore plotter until I finally realised that I’m more of an intuitive person who writes by the seat of her pants as much as I rely on planning my stories. So now I try to find a balance between pantsing and plotting. And I personally see story structures as an adventurer’s maps – you can have all the adventures you want to have by following your intuition, but occasionally you need the maps to take you where you want to go, especially when you get lost or stuck.

I used the 3-Act Structure for plotting my first novel, Deceived, but for my second and third manuscripts, I needed something more extensive as they are more complex than my earlier work, so I used the 4 Act Structure. In this article, I’ll be introducing the 4-Act Structure and its benefits and use. If you wish to know more about the 3-Act Structure then you can read the following articles I wrote a while ago:


The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction

the 4-act structure

What is the 4-Act Structure?

The 4-Act Structure is basically the broader version of the 3 Act Structure in which the elaborate ‘middle’ is broken into two separate acts. This method is very popular among writers especially those who write lengthy novels and the ones who struggle with the ‘infinite middle.’

  • Act-1: Setup of conflict
  • Act-2: Build-up
  • Act-3: Crises
  • Act-4: Resolution

Here’s a simple diagram to depict the 4-Act Structure:

This image is subject to copyright.

What are the advantages of using the 4-Act Structure?

There are many advantages to using the 4-act structure, just like any other outlining tool:

  1. It helps in dealing with the overall story better, in an organized manner (just like any other story structure.)
  2. It assists in specifically dealing with the problematic middle of the story – the 75% part of the story that is a bit vaguely structured in the 3-act structure of story writing.
  3. It encourages in figuring out the problems with the story plot and in combing out the plot holes that would inevitably make your story weak.
  4. It helps in understanding what exactly your story is lacking in order to make it into a near-perfect manuscript.
  5. It even aids in recognizing, and then getting rid of, the redundant scenes, side stories and subplots.
  6. It greatly helps in dealing with the most coveted enemy of any writer – writer’s block, when you get stuck in the inescapable limbo.
  7. It also serves, for many writers, as a quick fix to complete the drafts within a particular timeline. It’s not necessarily a short cut, but can definitely be viewed as an answer to many plot-progression related problems.

When should the 3-Sct Structure be used? Before starting the first draft, in between or at the of the nth draft?

Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve discovered the hard way that it’s always best to first write the first draft by the seat of your pants, no matter if you consider yourself a planner or a pantster, because the first draft has to be as unadulterated and pure as can be, and that would be possible only if you let your imagination take over your mind and the muse and instinct guide your hands. The story structure, whether it is a 3-act structure or the 4-act structure or even the 9-act structure, should be applied for the first time to the first draft once it is complete. Then as you progress, it depends on how often you want to adjust your story according to the structure; you can do it while you write or revise your drafts or before or after that. It is entirely up to you.

I have come to realise that if the story structures are applied to the story in the initial stage of the conceiving of the plot, before or right after beginning the first draft (which is far too complex and difficult than one might think) then it corrupts the authenticity of the plot that otherwise might have been and makes it feel constrained. And such writing often results in an amateurish end product.

If you want a simpler story structure for your story, then read this: The 3-Act Structure: In Detail


If you are suffering from a writer’s block or are facing difficulty in getting ahead with your story, here are some articles I recommend:

Naming The Writer’s Unconscious – A Little Girl And Her Puppy

I always read craft books not once, but several times. I guess that’s the best way to really get the techniques and the wisdom they have to offer. Lately, I’ve been re-reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott and came across a concept, more like a paragraph or two, where author Lamott mentions about naming the unconscious:

“My friend Carpenter talks about the unconscious as the cellar where the little boy sits who creates the characters, and he hands them up to you through the cellar door. He might as well be cutting out paper dolls. he’s peaceful; he’s just playing.”

I paused at this particular bit, as I did the first time I read this book, and started thinking about how my unconscious would be?

Here she describes her friend’s version as a boy sitting in the cellar. But I don’t like the pictures of him sitting in confinement. I like her version of the unconscious better, “instead of a little kid, there’s a long-necked, good-natured Dr. Seuss character down there, grim with concentration and at the same time playing.”

So as I said earlier, I thought about my unconscious and this is what I came up with:

A Little Girl And Her Puppy

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

My unconscious, The Boy In The Cellar if you will, is a Little Girl. And this Little Girl is me, of course.

And the Little Girl is not alone; she has a puppy with her. A GSD puppy of about 4 months. And yes, this puppy is Tiger, my deceased pet.

So that’s my unconscious.

The Little Girl sits in the middle of the aangan of my childhood bungalow, on a stone-tiled floor on a thick faded rug called dari. She’s sitting cross-legged, wearing a beautiful white frock that hangs loosely from her thin wiry shoulders. Her dark-roasted-coffee-brown hair hanging down in waves reaching her waist.

Fair as she is, she has a small mouth and small ears but big brown curious eyes. She’s sitting with her coloring book sprawled luxuriously in front of her among her uncountable Camlin crayons of every color you could possibly imagine. They are the ones that her father gave her.

Now she’s bent over her book and scribbling away with cyan color. She looks happy today.

The Puppy is sitting beside her in a relaxed fashion that only 4-month-old puppies can manage. His head is resting on the girl small knee. He is looking at whatever the Little Girl is drawing with his droopy doggy eyes that look like they’re falling down. He’s a healthy Greman Shepherd and is big enough to come to her knees when she’s standing. He loves the Little Girl immensely and enjoys looking at her draw.

As I said, she looks good, happy. That makes me feel very good. And the important thing is she is not alone, she has the Puppy with her.

She loves drawing and therefore she is always drawing something or the other. Sometimes it takes her days, sometimes weeks and sometimes months or even years to complete a “masterpiece.” And when she’s done, she looks up from her work and calls me and hands me over those drawings.

Sometimes these drawings are so clear that I can clearly see what she has come up with, but sometimes they’re all blurred and abstract and it takes me a while to figure them out, to understand what is it that she wants me to see.

This is how my ideas come to me or rather delivered to me by my unconscious. The Little Girl is not a fragment of me, but she

The Little Girl is not a fragment of me, but she is me. This is how I get countless ideas for my books, characters, plots, sub-plots, short stories, flash fiction pieces, poems, etc.

This is how I write.


Takeaway:

If you are new to writing or if you are struggling with it, then I highly suggest this exercise. It’ll help you attain the very focus you need to center your creative mind.

What about you? Have you ever thought about how your unconscious works? Do you have a particular image of that unconscious?


Further Reading:

If you liked reading this article, then you might like these as well:

What Is Writer’s Block? And 3 Things to Keep In Mind

There are a lot of people who don’t believe in the existence of Writer’s Block, but let’s face it, even though you don’t want to name it, there are periods of time in every writer’s life when you simply can’t write (no matter how much you want to!) You can call it a “bad phase”, a stupor or whatever the hell you want it all comes down to the same thing – You can’t write sometimes.

No matter what you want to name it, the truth remains the same – This “bad time” or whatever you want to name it wastes a lot of precious time of writers that can be otherwise used for writing.

This is what is called Writer’s Block. Think of it as just something to name this condition for the sake of convenience.

It’s not all bad if you can recover from it in a short while, say a day or a couple of days or even a week. But it gets pretty bad if you simply can’t get over it for a long period of time, say a month. Or maybe more.

I’ve come across a lot of stories of writers giving up when they suffer a prolonged period of Writer’s Block and it greatly saddens me because this is not a solution. Giving up never is.

In 3 years of my full-time writing career, I’ve gone through multiple phases of Writer’s Block, both short and long spells. And if there’s something I’ve learned from each and every time, it is these 3 things:

1.  Make use of this time

Many of us use our extra time for writing. We get a day off, we write. We get an hour off, we write. We go on a vacation, we write. Being a full-time writer also, I use my extra time for writing, so I practically don’t get any free time for other things.

Use this “bad spell” to do the other things like weed the garden, take a small vacation with your family, do the house chores, spend time with your family and friends (god only knows how limited time writers get to spend with others), go for swimming, movies, or do anything else that either needs to be done, or you’ve wanted to do but couldn’t because of writing.

2. Keep feeding your creative mind

Just because you can’t write doesn’t mean you can’t read, or draw or do research or can’t do anything else that’ll work as a fodder for your creative mind.

Remember, our minds are like a sponge, they keep on absorbing and observing things. So when you’re not writing, either read books in your genre or read some refreshing new genre, or sing or dance or do something that you like. But again, don’t do anything that stresses you. You’re just doing these things for yourself, not to please others.

I watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books, both in my genre of writing. It always helps me.

3. Don’t give up

It’s okay to take a break. In fact, the way I see it, Writer’s Block is a way for our mind to tell us to take a break. If you’ll notice it generally happens after you’ve spent a considerable time working on your writing projects.

So listen to your mind and give it a rest.

You’ll always bounce back eventually.

Takeaway:

Don’t over think. Relax and take a calming breath. Your mind simply needs a break, it is NOT giving up on writing. So do what you want to do, keep in touch with your creative side and don’t ever think of giving up.

In case if the Writer Block doesn’t go away after a while, then face the truth – It’s not the Writer’s Block, it’s you. You (maybe your subconscious self) are making reasons and coming up with stupid excuses to not to write. So get on your ass and start writing. It’ll be hard, but who said writing will be easy?

Do not give up.

What are your experiences with Writer’s Block?


Further Reading:

Point Of Views (POVs)

Point Of View, casually known as POV, is one of  the most important literary devices that is used in fiction writing. Determining the perspective from which the story is told is often the making or the breaking point of a novel.

If you make a wrong decision, your readers will be highly disappointed due to lack of plot coherence, and not only this, choosing the wrong POV also affects the bonding between the main characters and the reader, thus, affecting your novel on the whole. But if the point of view is chosen well, the readers will not only love your story and develop a memorable relationship with your characters but will also respect your writing and look forward to reading your other works.

Hence, it won’t be wrong to say that the choice of point of view and its execution shows the writer’s ability, efficiency, and dedication to their story. And in order to make the right choice you need to have an in-depth and precise knowledge about all the POVs before settling on one (or more) for your story.

Definition:

Point of View aka POV is the perspective from which a story is told. Point Of View is what can be called as the voice that tells the story to a reader.

Following are the 3 types of Point Of Views (POVs):

First Person Point Of View

In First Person POV, the narrator is a character himself/herself. The story unfolds as a first-hand experience of the narrator or it can be said that the character is narrating the story.
The information is unreliable as its scope is limited depending entirely on the main character’s knowledge of/in any situation. For instance, if the character is delusional then it creates a problem if you’ll write the entire book from his perspective.

The First Person POV has recently garnered a lot of popularity as a lot of new authors are using it. The advantages of First Person POV is that the reader can relate to the main character quite easily and the bond that follows is very strong. But of course, it requires a high level of expertise to pull it off.

The pronouns used in First Person POV are – I, me and mine.

Types of First Person POV:

  1. First Person Central POV: When the story is told from the point of view of the main character it is known as the First Person Central POV. This helps in developing an intimate bond between the main character and the reader. It often includes internal monolog, personal feelings, etc, which help in making the reader understand the main character inside-out.
  2. First Person Peripheral POV: When the story is told from the point of view of a secondary or a minor character, who can also be an observer, is known as First Person Peripheral POV. This POV is detached and neutral and provides an objective look at the main character.

Popular books written in First Person POV:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Penryn And The End Of Days Series by Susan Ee
Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Second Person Point Of View

In Second Person POV, the narration is addressed from one person to the second person.

The disadvantage of this POV is that it is difficult to relate to. It is a form of direct speech and the narrator or the character refers directly to the reader as “you.”

The Second Person POV is rarely used in fiction-writing, though there are some authors who use it for writing their novels.  It is mostly used for instructional writing and how-to books.

The pronouns used in Second Person POV are – You, your.

Popular books written in Second Person POV:

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
If On A Winter's Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino
You by Caroline Kepnes
All The Truth that's In Me by Julie Berry
Booked by Kwame Alexander
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Third Person Point Of View

Third Person POV is the point of view in which a narrator (generally, the one who is not part of the story) tells the story.

This is one of the most widely used POV and most of the early literature and classic novels are written in this POV. A lot of contemporary writers still believe that only the stories written in Third Person POV are good, but of course, it’s their personal opinion.

The Third person POV helps the readers understand the main characters from a distance and many believe that this is what makes it so interesting and capturing.

The pronouns used in Third Person POV: He, she, it, him, her, they, them, its. 

Types of Third Person POV:

  1. Third Person Omniscient POV: Omniscient = All-knowing. In Third Person Omniscient POV the narrator knows and reveals the feelings, thoughts, and/or motivations of all the characters (at least partially.)
    Eg. Unwind Series by Neal Shusterman.
  2. Third Person Limited POV: In Third Person Limited POV the narrator knows and reveals the feelings, thoughts, and/or motivations of only a single character, the main character.
    Eg. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.
  3. Third Person Objective/Dramatic POV: In Third Person Objective POV the narrator knows and reveals no feelings, thoughts and/or motivations of any of the characters. Rather, the narrator reveals only the facts and details about the story.
    Eg. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Popular books written in Third Person POV:

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Watch my video podcast on POVs:

If you have any doubt regarding POVs or want to share your experiences or anecdotes then please leave a comment below.

Further Reading:

All About First Drafts

A First Draft is one of the most basic entities of fiction-writing and it lays the basic foundation of a novel. If you’re a writer then you probably might have come across this term more than a thousand times already, and if not then you’ve come to the right place. Just for the sake of it, I’ll start this article with the definition.

You can watch the video podcast of this article on YouTube here:

Fiction Writing Ep. #02: All About First Drafts.

1. What is a First Draft?

A first draft is the first thing you write about a project, a book, a blog post (like this one) or even an idea in general. It simply means writing down your initial thoughts in order to figure out the project as a whole.

First drafts are mostly the unplanned version of an idea. It can even be fragments of a concept written together to help you move further in your story or project later on.

20160713_143304
First draft of Deceived

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

– Terry Pratchet

2. Why is the First Draft important?

First Draft is not important, it is VERY important. If you won’t write the first draft of your novel, your thoughts will be scattered all over the place and you’ll struggle endlessly to put your ideas together coherently in a sensible form. Eventually, you might be able to get your thoughts organized, but it’ll waste a lot of your precious time.

A first draft helps you in discovering your characters, plot, and story-flow, and in building the three main pillars of your project – beginning, middle and ending.

The most important thing and the point of writing the first draft is to get the story on paper. To get it out of your mind and into this world. It’s like giving birth – unlikable to watch but necessary altogether.

It doesn’t have to be perfect because your next drafts will take care of that. All you have to do is, WRITE IT DOWN.

I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.

– Shannon Hale.

3. What is the purpose of writing a First Draft? 

The main purpose of writing the first draft is simply getting to know what your story really is. And in order to do this just let go of any fear and qualms you have about your project because the first draft (FD) is something that you write for your own self.

Don’t worry about the complicated things like story structure, sentence development, world building, character development, conflicts, exposition or other things like that because you’ll be working on these elements later on. NOT in the First Draft.

So, before starting out, be clear about what the FD really is, so that you won’t give in to the editor inside your head and leave your FD halfway like many writers do.

First drafts are simply the raw form of your story; it’s a skeleton in the earliest of stages. Most probably you’ll be working for months on this project after the FD is done, so you can clean it up later on. LEAVE EVERYTHING ELSE FOR LATER, simply get the damn story out in your FD. It doesn’t matter if you’re following a sequence or not or if you’re are simply writing random scenes (I do this a lot in my FDs) or if you’re writing the story backward. It does not matter as long as you’re getting the ideas of your story on paper. It’s totally OKAY! What really matters is that you WRITE.

Remember, most of the time (actually, all the time) the final product is miles away from the idea that you initially began with. So don’t waste your time on detailing or organizing your FDs as it might not even make it to the final MS. But it is still important for you to write the FD because that is what will get you to the final MS.

“The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.”

– John Dufresne

4. How to write a First Draft?

There’s no specific way of writing FDs, but to help you get an idea, following are the two ways in which one can write a First Draft:

Two ways of writing the FDs:

  • Simple Method (Recommended for beginners and pantsters.)

– Sit in a comfortable place and use a simple writing software that you are comfortable with and start writing without worrying about anything, especially not about editing or spelling mistakes.

– Start writing. Just try and focus on your story and forget about everything. If you feel the urge to edit, then simply console yourself by thinking that you’ll edit it in the next sitting.

– Continue writing this way (preferably every day) till you’ve got the entire thing written.

That’s it, you’ve just written your FD!

  • Advanced Method (Recommended for plotters, fantasy writers and for novelists who use specific timeline.)

– First of all, write down the rough outline of your story by using single words or only a few words to make sure you understand what’s to come where.

– Then create an equally rough timeline just so that you have a sense of the timing for whatever events you’ve planned for the story.

– Sit in a comfortable place and use a simple writing software that you are comfortable with and start writing without worrying about anything, especially not about editing or spelling mistakes.

– Start writing. Just make sure that you’re keeping a tab on your story outline while writing. More new ideas will come to you with the help of each outlining point. This will make you write more and get a better perspective of your story.

– Continue writing this way (preferably every day) till you’ve got the entire thing written.

That’s it, your FD is ready! By following this method you have a more elaborate and a clearer FD, which will help you while writing your second draft.


Note-I: Use a writing software that you’re most comfortable to use. Don’t get confused or mislead into using complicated software that you don’t know anything about. [I use Pages and/or Word for Mac. It helps me think straight and write fast.]

Note-II: As I said above, there’s no specific way to write FDs. You can write FDs in any way that is totally different to the ones above.
Again, it doesn’t matter. This is just something I came up with in order to help writers understand First Drafts better.

5. What to expect from First Drafts?

  • Rawness
  • Plot holes (Lots of them!)
  • Rough and incomplete storylines.
  • Raw sub-plotlines
  • Rough timelines
  • Half-built characters
  • Imperfect scenes
  • Weak endings
  • Inconsistent exposition
  • Flawed conflicts
  • Loose ends (a lot of them.)
  • Last, but not the least, tons of ideas!

“The first draft of anything is CRAP, but it’s infinitely better than NO draft.”

– Ben Arment.

6. What NOT to expect from the First Drafts?

  • Perfection
  • Adequacy
  • Complete Scenes
  • Final Story
  • Finished Characters
  • Brilliant Storyline
  • Magical endings

In short, First draft is the first step of a long staircase. You’ll have to be patient; there’s no other way.

 

What to do after completing the First Draft?

Rest? Take a break?

No… Do not take a break from your story after completing the FD. This is where a lot of writers go wrong (at least, as far as I know.) So trust me when I say, this is the right time to plunge deeper into your story.

When you’re done with the FD make sure that you re-read it a couple of times. After doing this you are ready to organize your story.

Move on to the next step of Character Development and Detailed Planning.

Read my articles on:

And then? Brace yourself for writing the Second Draft! (I’ll be writing a detailed article, just like this one, on Second Drafts (SDs) soon. So stay tuned!)

You can watch the video podcast of this article on YouTube here:

Fiction Writing Ep. #02: All About First Drafts.

***

Terms Used: 
FD - First Draft 
MS – Manuscript
SD – Second Draft

***

If you have any questions or doubts regarding this article then please ask them below in the comments sections and I’ll try my best to answer them as soon as I can. Also, please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments as I always love listening to all my readers.

Thank you for reading!


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Editing Vs Revising

Many times, new writers and authors are faced with the age-old dilemma where they have to revise and edit their manuscripts. But only some of them really know the difference between the two.

In this short article, you’ll find the basic difference between “editing” and “revising” that will help you differentiate between the two easily.

Editing:

Editing involves minor changes that polish your manuscript technically by focusing on the following:

Sentence structure 
Punctuations
Spelling mistakes
Typos
Grammatical errors
Pointing out mistakes in the already revised text

While editing, the overall story remains the same. Here, fixing sentence structure is the priority.


 

Revising:

Revising involves major changes that refine your manuscript mechanically by focusing on the following:

Rewiting exsisting thoughts in a better way
Adding new thoughts
Adding new necessary details
Deleting unnecesarry details
Refining the story flow 
Enhancing character development
Using better words and phrases
Rewriting paragraphs to make them better
Clarifying ideas
Enhancing plot growth

While revising, the overall story changes as per requirement. Here, fixing the story as a whole is the priority.

The 3-Act Structure: In Detail

In order to utilize the 3-Act Structure efficiently, there is a need for a systematic sequence of elements to be followed that carries the story forward.  In the 3-Act Structure, each act has some particular story moves and by following these particular set of acts, you can rest easy that there will be no place for errors in your story.

If this structure is new to you and you’re wondering about what the hell it is, then check out the first part of this article- The 3-Act Structure: Introduction.

Here’s a list of the 3 biggest advantages of using this structure:

  1. It helps you to stay connected to the theme/idea/plotline of the story.
  2. It helps you to look at your story from a broader and better perspective.
  3. It helps you to recognize the unwanted elements in your story and helps you in cleaning up your story.

Here’s a chart that I made which will give you the gist of this structure.

3-AS by Heena Rathore P. (All rights reserved. Please contact the author before using this image.)
3-AS by Heena Rathore P. (All rights reserved. Please contact the author before using this image.)

ACT-I

Introduction

  • Introduction to the MC(s)
  • Introduction and laying the foundation of the fictional world (in case of Fantasy)
  • An introduction of the circumstances surrounding the MC and the secondary characters.
  • An introduction of the main relationships.
  • Introducing the main hook of the book.
  • An introduction to the conflict.
  • Establishment of the main relationships that were introduced earlier.
  • Introducing the antagonist (or, at least, hint stuff about him/her.)

ACT-II

1) Complication

  • Elaborate the conflict by making more difficult and dangerous.
  • Introduce a backstory through flashbacks or an old memory (or in any way you want) in relation to the conflict.
  • Make the MC solve/fight the conflict in his own way.
  • Keep the antagonist in motion. Make him do something. Anything. Don’t leave him out otherwise the plot will get boring.

2) Destruction

  • Destroy the MC physically and/or emotionally after he tries to solve/fight the conflict.
  • This part should be the lowest point in his life.
  • Make sure to make it look like there’s no way out.

ACT-III

Resolution

  • Show MC getting over his fears and disappointment (add a convincing source of motivation.)
  • Defeating the antagonist or being defeated himself (whatever suits your stories.)
  • Make sure to clean up- explain anything that needs an explanation. Do not leave any loose ends.

So, these are the 3 Acts explained to the best of my knowledge. There are innumerable variants of the 3-Act Structure but this is the one that I follow. It’s my own version and it works beautifully for me. I hope that it will help you as much as it for me. I wrote my first novel, Deceived, using this method and, therefore, I trust it completely.

I’d like to conclude by giving you a small advice- 50% to 75% is the mark where most of the stories go weak. So, pay special attention to the 2nd part of Act-II, i.e., the Destruction part.

What about you? Have you ever tried the 3-Act Structure?
Leave a comment below and I promise to get back to you ASAP.


 

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The 3-Act Structure: Introduction

“You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley

Planning a novel is the most important aspect of creating one. Even if you’re a pantster, at some or the other point, you’ll realise the need to arrange the novel in an order which will ensure that the novel is structured properly.

Organising everything from comes as second nature to planners, but it becomes a headache for pantsters and the writers who are new to the craft who find it a little overwhelming at times to keep a track of the basic plotline of their novel while writing it.

There are many ways in which one can plan a novel. The most basic way to plan your novel is to use the 3-Act Structure, a modified and evolved version of Aristotle’s way of writing tragedy. In this post, I’ll be introducing the 3-Act Structure along with its benefits and uses. In order to read the 3-Act Structure in detail, please read this: The 3-Act Structure: In Detail


The 3-Act Structure: Introduction

What is the 3-Act Structure?

The 3-Act Structure is a system of dividing a novel into three broad sections: 25%-50%-25%, where each of the three acts has some specific plot or story moves. This is the most basic type of story structure and can be seen or identified in almost any story ever written.

Because of this basic nature of the 3-Act Structure, a lot of writers feel that this structure is too thin to be used for structuring elaborate novels because of having a lengthy and complex middle portion. And I agree with them. But I also feel that for writers who are not into plotting heavily or who are just starting out, this is the best way to get acquainted with the otherwise infinite ocean of story plotting. I used this structure to plot my first novel, Deceived, and it served me well. There is a lot to this structure than meets the eye and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is new to either story plotting or writing itself.

On the surface, this structure is in line with Aristotle’s way of writing, having a beginning, a middle and an ending:

  • Act-1: Beginning
  • Act-2: Middle
  • Act-3: End

But, where all the novels have these three parts, there are also various other components to them in terms of the plot moves. So when the evolved version of Aristotle’s structure of writing tragedy looks like this:

  • Act-1: Introductions and Conflict
  • Act-2: Complication and Destruction
  • Act-3: Resolution

Here’s a simple diagram to depict the 3-Act Structure:

1
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What are the advantages of using the 3-Act Structure?

Using a pre-designed and a very basic structure to create a novel is always advisable as it helps in laying a strong foundation of your novel. Some of the advantages of using this structure are:

  1. It’s quite simple to comprehend and equally easy to apply.
  2. It makes sure that the basics of your novel remain in place and don’t get lost in the entirety of your project.
  3. It helps you to understand the missing pieces from your novel.
  4. It also makes you realise if and when you have unnecessary or extra scenes that you’re trying to incorporate in your novel.
  5. It helps you to organise your novel in a much better and clear way.
  6. It helps you to make your novel a better and a more polished version of the otherwise messy and haywire one.
  7. And more often than not, especially when you feel like you’ve run out of things/scenes to write, this method will definitely give you a gentle push to write more and will often fill your head with new ideas.

When should the 3-Sct Structure be used? Before starting the first draft, in between or at the of the nth draft?

The 3-Act Structure, or any structure for that matter, can be used at any point in your writing journey but I would advise to use it after you finish with the first draft. It will help you in understanding the plot holes and give you the much-needed direction in order to proceed with your next draft. If you really want to use this in building up your manuscript then keep adjusting all your drafts as per this structure (or any other structure that you are using) as the end of each draft as it’ll help your story remain in line.

If you want to know the details of this structure then read this: The 3-Act Structure: In Detail

If you feel like this is not for you then read about other story structures: The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction


If you are suffering from a writer’s block or are facing difficulty in getting ahead with your story, here are some articles I recommend: