3 Act Structure #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

The 3 Act Structure

(Today’s post on the 3 Act Structure is an excerpt from The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel.)

3 act structureTHE 3 ACT STRUCTURE is one of the most popular ways to plot a novel or screenplay. It’s the backbone of countless novels, TV shows and movies. It keeps the story moving, the reader turning pages and box offices busy. In its simplest form it consists of three parts:

  1. Beginning
  2. Middle
  3. End

Of course, much more is involved. Your daily trip to work has a beginning, middle and end. Hopefully, it’s uneventful, but boring isn’t what you want for your novel. Let’s re-label the three parts into:

  1. Setup
  2. Conflict
  3. Climax

Much more riveting, isn’t it?

Let’s look at each of these in depth.
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The Opening Hook of Your Book #ThrowbackThursday

The Opening Hook #ThrowbackThursday

The following is an excerpt from my book, The Plot Thickens: 21 Ways to Plot Your Novel. A link to buy can be found here. The first chapter addresses the importance of writing the opening hook.

The opening hook raises questions, piques curiosity, and draws the reader deeper into your story.

How to Take the Headache Out of Starting Your Book

STOP STARING at that blinking curser and start your book. How? With a mind-blowing opening hook.

Even if you’re new to writing, you know the importance of the opening hook. It grabs your reader’s attention and convinces him to buy.

The opening hook raises questions, piques curiosity, and draws the reader deeper into your story.Click To Tweet

Without a compelling, question-producing opening, they aren’t going to read further. You have a few sentences to make an impression. Nowadays, no one has the luxury of time. You have to hit them fast and hard.

Your reader wants to be drawn into a believable world from word one. He expects to be entertained. Don’t disappoint him. Skip the protagonist sitting with a cup of coffee, contemplating the letter she received from dear Aunt Sally. Jump her right into the story—Aunt Sally died, but collecting the inheritance means quitting the job your protagonist loves and moving back to the town that gave her heartache.

Conversely, don’t plunge the reader so quickly into the story with a one-line exclamation from the protagonist. The reader has no context in which to place it. It’s a cheap device that’s been overused.

Instead, start where the protagonist’s problem begins, raise questions that intrigue the reader, and filter in back-story later.

What is a hook? It’s a device to catch the reader’s attention and pull him into the story.

A hook prepares the reader for what’s ahead—the immediate future of a character and introduces the conflict. It sets the mood and style and gives the setting—all the elements of who, what, why, when, where and how.

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Quick Plotting Exercise #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Quick Plotting Exercise

Here’s a quick plotting exercise that shouldn’t take long and will give you a bare bones idea of what you want your book to be. Think of it as a map an early explorer made of a new territory. Vast areas of the unknown are left off, all the peaks and valleys aren’t named, but you can identify major places.

plotting exercise

Take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. Label one side protagonist and the other antagonist, or hero and heroine. List the following questions and fill in brief answers. Turn off your internal editor, and don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or the “right” answer.

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