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Story Structure

I’m stuck in the middle of my story. I have no idea where to go with it. My courageous yet timid main character has entered a world a thousand times more fantastical than her own, she gotten a taste of what the antagonist is capable of, she’s connected with those she will fight with and she’s met the love interest. Everything is setting up nicely. But for what? I have no idea. I was physically banging my head against my desk an hour ago. This post is definitely a better way of dealing with writers block.

This case of writers block is probably due to the fact that I dropped my lame outline a few months back to take another shot at writing by the seat of my pants. But I need an outline, but more specifically, I think some story structure would do me good. Without it, I know the middle of my story is going to be very mushy. This is why I’m exploring story structure in this blog. I want to find one that will work best with the story I am writing. Below are two of the most popular ways to structure your story. Maybe one of them will best suit your story and writing style as well!

The Four Act Structure

This method of structuring your story is one even non-writers know. It was probably taught in your high school English class (you may have known it as the Three Act Structure back then). The Four Act Structure is basically the Three Act Structure, only each act is the same length. If you cut the Three Act Structure down the middle then it would be the Four Act Structure.

Karen Woodward lays out the details for each Act in her blog post entitled: A Four Act Structure:

Four Acts In Point Form

Act One (first 25%)

- The inciting incident occurs (/the hook).

- Establish the (initial) stakes.

- The lock in: something happens to up the stakes just before we break into Act Two.

Act Two (25% to 49%)

- The hero comes up with a plan, a way to solve the problem or a way to approach the problem. If this is a murder mystery, it is a way to find out who is the murderer.

- Put the plan into action.

- The plan fails. Everything the hero and his companions thought they knew was wrong. Back to square one.

Act Three (50% to 74%)

- The hero and his/her companions tries to recover from the calamitous events of Act Two. They try to come up with a new approach.

- Everything keeps getting worse for the hero and his companions. The opposing force increases.

- The stakes are raised.

- By the end of Act Three it seems as though the hero has lost.

Act Four (75% on)

- New plan

- Solve the problem.

- Attain the goal.

- By the end of Act Four equilibrium is restored and we're back to the Ordinary World of Act One, ready for another adventure.

Okay, it’s me again. So the big difference here with the Four Act Structure is the part at the end of Act 2. The point of complete and utter failure/hopelessness. This was not a part of the Three Act Structure.

The 7 Point Structure

There are seven plot points in Dan Wells 7 Point Structure, obviously. In the blog entitled The Basics of the Seven Point Story Structure by Kylie Day she explains the details of the 7 Point Stucture.

Hook: Your character’s starting point. This is the opposite of the Resolution.

Plot turn 1: The event that sets your story in motion and moves you from the beginning to the Midpoint. You introduce the conflict and your character’s world changes. This is basically when you character sets out on his/her journey.

Pinch point 1: This is where you apply pressure. This is often used to introduce the antagonist.

Midpoint: Your character moves from reaction to action. He/she determines he/she must do something to stop the antagonist.

Pinch point 2: This is where you apply more pressure. Your story takes the ultimate dive. Your character is at his/her darkest moment. He/she has lost everything.

Plot turn 2: Here you move the story from Midpoint to the end, the Resolution. Your character gets or realizes he/she has the final piece of information to achieve what he/she set out to do in the Midpoint.

Resolution: This is the climax of your story. Everything in the story leads to this moment. Here, your character achieves (or fails to achieve) what he/she set out to do.

This story structure allows for more planning/outlining for your story. If you’re a big outliner, this may be the best route for you.

We want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope that you find peace and happiness during this wonderful time of year!

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