If you try to guess how long it will take to finish something, you check if you’re at the beginning the middle or close to the end.
That only works when you know where you are.
Don’t you wish there was a template, a “blueprint” that allowed writers to feel certain they had accomplished what was needed to move past a story’s half-way mark?
Maybe there is.
A model exists that describes how a successful story’s action grabs an audience at the very start, keeps them engaged through the longer more complex middle and then rewards them with a rousing climax and a satisfying resolution in the end.
If writers compare existing chapters to this model, it’s a way to see how far along they are.
Just have an idea? Use the model to see whether or not any particular idea has “legs” or the strength to carry an entire novel.
So what is this incredible tool?
The 3-Part Dramatic Structure began 500-300 BC with the Golden Age of Greek Theater. It was a way to get an audience engaged and curious, then riled up, perhaps even angered and finally appeased.
It illustrates exactly what a writer needs to check for in a story: a beginning, middle and end.
So if writers have a structural model that’s been around for a few thousand years and if their story at least works within it, not confined by it, but sharing the forcibly consistent successful outcomes that the application of this model provides, then why not use it?
Here’s how you can do that.
Compare your idea or entire story by using a 3-Part Dramatic Structure model. Write one or two sentences for each part. (If you want to go farther than that, please do).
Act 1 – Get them up a tree
Act 2 – Throw rocks at them
Act 3 – Get them down
Beginning: Act 1
Introduction of the main character and minor characters, catalyst that sets off the main character, stakes set and the “hook” that grabs the audience
Middle: *Act 2
Introduction of conflict, relationships, betrayals, confrontation, obstacles, battles and short lived triumphs, big truths are uncovered and there’s a race to the final showdown. (Twice as long as Acts 1 or 3)
*Half-way through or thereabouts, the story has a reversal, a breakthrough, an epiphany as the curtain parts on those big truths
End: Act 3
The climax answering all questions and resolving the main character’s conflicts resulting in a satisfying or at least contemplative ending
Lajos Egri, the author of The Art of Dramatic Writing makes a point about how difficult it is to write something when you don’t know where your story is going:
“(a) man rushes down the street, panting for breath. You intercept him and ask where he is going. He gasps: “How should I know where I’m going? I am on my way.”
Parts of a story tend to stay parts unless they are clearly parts of a whole. The whole of a story, like the whole of a life has a beginning, middle and end. A good way to get to the end of a first draft is to figure out when you’re half way there.
Know where you’re going and always,
Christina for PenPaperWrite
Learn the 3 Part Dramatic Structure and much more at the next
60 SCENES® WRITING METHOD 1-Day Workshop Saturday, March 24th
Atlanta, GA Sign Up Here → www.60scenes.com
Questions? Contact Michael Blankenship firstname.lastname@example.org
Class size limited to 15
“If you can write 60 Scenes® you can write a novel.”