read these articles in sequence starting with Conflict
Conflict and Character within Story Structure
Basic Three Act Structure
simplest building blocks of a good story are found in
the Three Act Structure. Separated by Plot Points, its
Act 1 (Beginning), Act 2 (Middle), and Act 3 (End) refer
not to where in time in the story they lie but instead
fundamental stages along the way.
In the Beginning you introduce the reader to the
setting, the characters and the situation (conflict)
they find themselves in and their goal. Plot Point 1
is a situation that drives the main character from
their "normal" life toward some different
conflicting situation that the story is about.
stories often begin at Plot Point 1, thrusting the
main character right into the thick of things, but
they never really leave out Act 1, instead filling it
in with back story along the way.
the Middle the story develops through
a series of complications and obstacles,
each leading to a mini crisis. Though each of these crises
are temporarily resolved, the story leads inevitably to
an ultimate crisis—the Climax. As the story progresses, there is a rising and falling
of tension with each crisis, but an overall rising
tension as we
approach the Climax.
resolution of the Climax is Plot Point 2.
the End, the Climax and the loose ends of the story are
resolved during the Denouement.
rapidly dissipates because it's nearly impossible to
sustain a reader's interest very long after the climax.
Finish your story and get out.
Arc and Story Structure
In the Beginning
of a story the main character, being human (even
if he of she isn't), will resist change (inner conflict).
The character is perfectly content as he
is; there's no
reason to change.
Plot Point 1
– Then something happens to throw everything off
come as a surprise that shifts the story in a
new direction and reveals that the
protagonist’s life will never be the same
Wars this point occurs when Luke's family is
killed, freeing him to fight the Empire.
It puts an
the way of the character that forces him or her to deal with something they would avoid
under normal circumstances.
second Act is about a character’s emotional
journey and is the hardest part of a story to
write. Give your characters all sorts
of challenges to overcome during Act 2. Make
them struggle towards their goal.
The key to
Act Two is conflict. Without it you
can’t move the story forward. And conflict
doesn’t mean a literal fight. Come up with obstacles
(maybe five, maybe a dozen—depends on the story)
leading up to your
plot point at the end of Act 2.
Throughoutthe second act remember to continually
raise the stakes of your character’s
Simultaneously advance both
inner and outer conflicts. Have them work
character should alternate up and down internally
between hope and disappointment
as external problems begin to seem
solvable then become more insurmountable
Include reversals of fortune and unexpected turns of events—surprise
your reader with both the actions of the
main character and the events surrounding him.
Act Two ends with the second
plot point, which thrusts the story in another
Point 2 occurs at the moment the hero
appears beaten or lost but something happens to turn the
situation around. The hero's goal becomes
before this unexpected story turn, the hero reaches
the Black Moment—the point at which all is lost and the goal
cannot be achieved.
to have a "Climax", where the
tension is highest, you must have a
"Black" moment, where the stakes
are highest and danger at its worst.
this moment, the hero draws upon the new
strengths or lessons he's learned in order
to take action and bring the story to a
gotta get a broom from the Wicked Witch
before she can go home.
gotta blow up the Death Star before
fulfilling his destiny.
Klump’s gotta save face with the
investors of his formula and win back Jada.
Act dramatically shows how the character is able to
succeed or become a better person.
ties together the loose ends of the story (not
necessarily all of them) and allows the reader to see the outcome of the
main character’s decision at the climax. Here we see evidence of the change in a
positive character arc.
Story Structure & the Buddha
Great novels—great stories—existed long before there were books about
something called Story Structure. The pattern of an
enchanting yarn has been recreated again and again
through time and around the world in myths and tales. The rhythm of these
stories that so captures our imaginations reflects not
marketing trends but our collective struggle through
life. Things that deeply resonate do so because they tug
at our inner workings. Structure is not a prison—use tips and advice on it only as a map, but go
down deep within yourself to find the road. Finding the
road is the most pleasurable part of writing.
let your focus be the Plot,
which is the series of events and situations that occur
along the route of your story. The Plot is a natural outcome of
the seeds of your story—it emerges
from your setup of the characters, their conflicts and
the setting they occur in. You'll write a more powerful,
believable story if you focus on seed planting long
before you worry about the harvest.