Advertisements

My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Tag: Story Structure

One Efficient Story Structure Template to Follow

There are multiple story structure templates out there but the most basic one consists of a simple, three-act model.

Act I, Act II, and Act III, and nothing more.

It’s simple, efficient, and something that will give any new writer a blueprint on creating their dream story.
First a brief overview of the three-act structure.

 

Act I

Act I is where you’ll introduce the bulk of your main characters and where your story’s premise is located. Here, introduce the characters, what they’re after, why they’re after it, and what they’re planning to do in order to get what they want.

In Northern Knights, Act I goes from Chapter One all the way until Cain and his friends arrive at their university.

I like to think of Act I ending when Cain meets his mentor at the university where they go through Cain’s life-changing week prior to arrival.

 

Act II

Act II is the marathon of the middle, where the meat of the story takes place. You may introduce another character or two, as I have with breakout character Savannah Rivers. However, while Savannah wasn’t supposed to be a major character, a certain scene, later on, forced me to throw her in deeper.

Here, you’ll basically walk the reader through the problems, trials, tribulations, and endless losses. The marathon of the middle is full of tension, where the main character will be tested time and again before the inevitable occurs.

In Northern Knights, Act II ends when the Southpoint Empire issues preliminary strikes on free North Columbia.

Cain and the others realize how much trouble they’re in.

 

Act III

So, Act III is when the action really heats up and takes us all the way to the climactic scene. Act three begins the next morning after Cain and his friends had been up all night due to relentless missile strikes and are planning their defenses.

In Northern Knights, the main antagonist isn’t introduced, though he’s spoken of often beforehand and his actions are recorded, Act III is a great time to introduce this antagonist.

And in the third-to-last chapter, that’s exactly what happens.

For you, Act III is the best time to introduce such an epic battle or fight scene.

While you may have some skirmishes throughout the earlier portion of your book, Act III is the big one.
Think of Act III as when in Harry Potter of the Deathly Hallows, the Battle of Hogwarts begins and you’ll get a firm grasp on what I mean.

So, if you have the best, most epic battle scene planned out, save it for Act III.

If you want the one event where the reader will remember your book, save it for Act III.

And you’ll be glad you do.

 

Breaking it Down into a Timeline

Act I:

1. Hook your reader!

2. Introduce the main character(s)

3. Establish what they want

4. Establish why they want it

5. Hint at how they’re going to get it

6. Tease the reader with a couple of ‘uh-oh’ scenes

7. Plunge these characters into troubled waters

8. Introduce the antagonist

9. Establish how the antagonist is reacting to the main characters getting in their way

 

Act II:

1. Introduce another character or two if necessary

2. Introduce more trouble and trials. Make your main character(s) lose often.

3. Add in some pain. Make the main character(s) question themselves at times (I could’ve done this better in Northern Knights, I won’t lie).

4. The final scene here should hint at the upcoming climax. With Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I’ve always thought this as when the Inquisitorial Squad apprehends Harry and his best friends with Umbridge present.

 

Act III:

1. Record the events leading to the upcoming climactic battle scene.

2. Let that battle scene commence! If we’re talking Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it’s when they’re confronted by the Death Eaters in the Dept. of Mysteries.

3. Climax time! OP reaches its climax when Bellatrix kills Sirius and Harry goes after her, followed by Dumbledore’s duel with Voldemort.

4. Falling action. Introduce the falling action that leads to the resolution. In OP, it’s when Harry sits in Dumbledore’s office before revisiting with his friends after the battle in Chapters 37 and 38.

5. Resolution time. This is where the book, their characters, and everyone congregates after everything they’ve been through. Of course, like most Harry Potter books, it’s back at Platform 9&3/4.

 

Focus on the Flow!

What I mean here is you want each act to flow seamlessly into the next. In other words, it shouldn’t be blatant to the reader that Act I just morphed into Act II.

Instead, ease the reader into Act II with a simple scene that ensures the story is still flowing the same direction, where they’ll follow along without having to state they just went from Act I to Act II.

When it’s time to pen Act III, a simple event is all you need for the reader to realize they’re in Act III and have left Act II.

Again, you don’t need a huge, cataclysmic event to alert the reader. A simple change in feeling and the reader should feel it, is all they need to tell them that they’re in Act III.

What do I mean by feeling? The atmosphere of the whole book should change.

With Northern Knights, the second the characters see an explosion in the distance and feel a subsequent tremor, the reader is going to know something’s way off, and things are going to get ugly.

Then, insert the cataclysm.

 

Conclusion

The Three-Act Story Structure is just one of many ways to build a story, though it’s great with beginning authors unfamiliar with structure.

I can relate Northern Knights to this structure, though it’s really more of a representation of the Hero’s Journey since I happened to come across the legendary book ‘A Hero with A Thousand Faces’ long before I wrote Northern Knights.

Either way, the Three-Act Story Structure is sure to kickstart your writing career in the right direction. It’s not easy, but it will provide a nice blueprint from which to work.

Advertisements

Two Awesome Ways to Craft Breathtaking Stories

The Classic Model or the Hero’s Model Each Have Unique Advantages

So, with my two debut series coming out this year, Lord of Columbia and Comeback Kid, the latter of which is simply the working title, I started this journey a few years back and since fell in love with writing.

 
Like many writers, I love writing multiple genres, but I also like exploring and writing in multiple story models. Two models I’ve researched are the Hero’s Journey and the Classic Model.

 

The Classic Model

Let’s begin with the shorter of the two. The Classic Model is used in a few short steps and is less complex than the Hero’s Journey, which is composed of twice as many. The classic model can be set up as follows:

 
1) Terrible Trouble: The main character or characters are plunged into some kind of terrible trouble. This can be established early, as on page one, or shortly thereafter, but make sure you start with it near the beginning and avoid throat-clearing, or in other words, just get to the story. Some call this the inciting incident.

 
2) Surface Problems: As described in step one, the surface problems must erupt to further the conflict. So, begin with the terrible trouble, or inciting incident, which leads to further incident, and the main character(s) must lose more games than they’re winning. We can have small victories, but the overall victory, or victory and defeat, can’t be established here, or the story just ended.

 
3) Resolution: This is where the story ends, and for many, it may mean one win and one loss. Some call this a Story-Worthy Problem, which is solved in the end. For instance, what did the character learn about him or herself? What did they gain? What did they lose? What did they discover?

 

 

An Example of the Classic Model

Les Edgerton loves pointing to the silver-screen to relay the classic model in the movie Thelma and Louise.

 
What’s the inciting incident?

 
When Thelma asks her controlling husband, Darryl, if she can accompany Louise on a weekend getaway. It’s established early, and the viewer immediately spots the trouble in Darryl’s disrespectful nature.

 
We get to the surface problems, which continually get worse throughout the book. Thelma has an incident with a man named Harlan, whom Louise subsequently kills. Now, they’re on the run from the law, and wish to travel from Arkansas to Oklahoma to Mexico. They come across a drifter, who’s recently broken his parole.

 
When Louise gets her life’s savings transferred to her, the drifter, J.D., steals the savings and flees, prompting the two to rob a convenience store, as the FBI gets closer to catching the women. They’re pulled over for speeding in New Mexico and are forced to overpower the state trooper. They’re stalked by a trucker and destroy the fuel tanker he’s hauling.

 
Finally, the resolution comes when they’re cornered by the FBI, and ultimately end by driving Louise’s Ford Thunderbird over a cliff, presumably leading to their deaths.
What did they gain in the resolution?

 
Freedom from all the men who’s harmed them.

 
And of course, they presumably died in the process, losing their lives, though this is ultimately left up to the viewer.

 

 

The Hero’s Journey

 

This one’s been one of my favorites since I first came across it in 2012. The Hero’s Journey comes in a few more steps, and it’s a little more complex, as there are several characters involved here.

 
I’ve been fascinated with this structure, and it’s always fun to speak of and share.

 

Without further ado:

 
1) Ordinary World: The hero is living their ordinary life, with no knowledge of the adventures on which they’re about to embark. Life is normal, everyday, and no reason for anything to change.

 
2) Call to Adventure: This is where the hero receives their first call to action. It can be anything, like a simple conversation or even an event on TV. Nothing crazy, but it raises concern in the hero.

 
3) Refusal to the Call: The hero refuses to accept the calling. Something is holding the hero back, like personal anxiety about the call, or personal doubt. Perhaps it’s too big of a challenge?

 
4) Meeting the Mentor: This is where the hero is given something valuable. It could be a type of training, or weapon of some sort that will help the hero in their quest.

 
5) Crossing the First Threshold: This is where the hero begins their quest and is ready to act and begin change. They’re crossing the threshold from the world they know to the and into the unknown. The hero commits to the challenge.

 
6) Series of Tests: As the name implies, this is where the hero meets allies, enemies, and obstacles thrown in front of them. Each challenge must be overcome. In the classic model, this can be related to the surface problems that erupt. The hero will find out who are their true friends and who are their enemies.

 
7) Approaching the Innermost Cave: The hero prepares to leap into the unknown. They’re taking the plunge here. Perhaps they face some doubts again, as they’re now about to go head to head with the ultimate test. Here, the hero learns skills and finds experience in preparation for this ultimate test.

 
8) Ordeal: This is a serious test for our hero. They must take their experiences and skills learned in the innermost cave to undertake this ultimate challenge and emerge victorious. Here, the hero gains some sort of resurrection or rebirth that will garner them insight to reach their end. It’s the ultimate make-or-break for the hero.

 
9) Seizing the Sword: The hero is now transformed and receives the reward, emerging from the ordeal as a new person, which will commence their journey back to the ordinary world. Despite the success, the next portion of the journey is about to begin, which won’t get any easier.

 
10) The Road Back: As implied above, the Road Back is the reverse to the call to action. The hero must now re-embark on their journey, in reverse, from the new world of adventure back to the ordinary world.

 
11) Resurrection: Here is the ultimate climax, where the hero faces their most dangerous encounter, the final battle. The outcome far outweighs the hero’s personal objectives. Everything rests on their shoulders, and a severe outcome may prove consequential to the hero and the ordinary world. The hero, against all odds, succeeds, emerging from the battle fully reborn as a new person.

 
12) Return: The final reward in which the hero returns as a changed individual. The return means a fresh breath of hope not only for them, but for all. It provides resolution for the hero and the key characters in the story. The hero will return, but will never be the same, despite being back in the ordinary world.

 

Many examples can be used regarding the Hero’s Journey, including Harry Potter, Star Wars, many Books in the Bible, and other avenues. Chances are, you’ve come across one of these works, and when reading or viewing such stories, keep a close eye on the twelve steps I’ve laid out above.

 

I’d like to thank all of my readers for their time, and if you found this article that’s been written several times over the past 2,000+ years somehow original, feel free to share it! Please come back soon.

© 2020 My Freedom Flame

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: