Thursday, December 31, 2009

Act Two- Part One - Sequence Three and Four

In Act Two, the character crosses over into his/her new world. A plan is made, allies are gathered, and tools and training is acquired. There is usually a failed battle before the final battle. The character goes through at least two attempts to reach his/her goal. Each try will be a sequence. In some stories, this section will contain more than two sections. The climax of Act Two - Part One should give a glimpse of the final answer, sometimes mirroring its opposite.

Act Two - Sequence Three - On the train, Harry quickly gathers his team. They arrive at the school and Hagrid escorts the kid into their new world. The climax, the sorting ceremony, Harry must make a choice between good and bad, which gives us a glimpse at the answer to the central question. Will Harry be a good wizard? The sequence ends with Harry feeling lonely, pulling the audience in to care for this young boy.

Act Two - Sequence Four - The story shifts to morning and we meet the teachers. At Lunch, a new question is formed. Is Hagrid good or bad? The missing item from 713 raises suspicion in Harry's mind. Harry has a flying lesson and becomes the youngest Seeker ever. On the forbidden third flour, the kids discover yet another of the school's mysteries.

Act Two - Sequence Five - On the athletic field, we are reintroduced to Harry's double nature. He would be a good Beater(bad) as well as a good Seeker(good). At class, Hermione shows her true character (she is perfect, isn't she) and Ron doesn't like it. There's trouble in the trio, already.

We are told that the girl is in the bathroom and then a disturbance of a troll is made known. The two boys rush to Hermione and discover that she's under attack. Together, they stop the troll. A strong bond is formed between the kids.

Notice there is an additional sequence in this Act. The movie is long, allowing for additional directions within the story.

As usual, feel free to comment.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Act One - Sequence Two

Act One - Sequence Two - Each sequence should take up about fifteen minutes of a movie and fifty pages of a four hundred page book. These counts will vary.

In sequence two, you will finish your set up, move your characters through the crossing threshold and end with the central question of the story. This is also known as the turning point one.

Now back to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Sequence two begins in a tavern and then moves to Diagon Alley. Harry gathers the tools he will need in his new world. Harry's inner need to use his powers for good is revealed at the wand shop. This also sets up the central question of the overall series. Will Harry turn out good or evil?

Back in the tavern, Harry's biggest enemy is revealed and the Central Question for movie one or book one is set up. Will the dark wizard come after Harry, and will Harry be able to survive?

This sequence ends with Harry jumping through the pillar at Platform. He enters his new world which ends Act One.

Again feel free to share your thoughts and/or examples.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Act One - Sequence One

Act One is the set up of your story. You will reveal the major players, themes, locations, conflicts, and the main conflict. You will show the inner and outer need of your protagonist. There will be setups and payoffs, rising stakes, and a possible time clock set into motion.

Act One- Sequence One- In a movie, this will normally take up the first fifteen minutes. In a novel, of four hundred words, you will find it in the first fifty pages. The page counts will vary per novel.

In sequence one, you will answer the questions who, what, where, when, and why: Characters, goals, setting, time, and motivation. This sequence will end with the inciting incident.

I'm going to use Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone as an example. I hope everyone has seen the movie. If not, watch it before moving forward. It's a very good movie.

Sequence One begins with the prologue, where we are introduced to the setting of magical world meets human, or muggle, world. We met the main character, Harry, as a baby and are introduced to his mentors.

The movie then flashes forward to present time. We are introduced to the main character's normal world and his conflicting family.

The zoo scene introduces a foreshadowing, those who have seen the series will know what I'm referring to, and the main character's desire to have a real family.

The invitations are the main character's call to adventure, or inciting incident. His uncle steps in as the Refusal of the call. But, the call cannot be refused when Hagrid arrives to escort the boy to the Hogwart's School.

As the main character follows Hagrid out the door to begin his adventure, we arrive at the end of Sequence One.

I'll end there for today. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow as we walk into Sequence two of Act One. Feel free to share examples of your own.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Three Acts, Eight Sequences

The basic structure of fiction: Does it apply to all fiction? I don't think so. I've spent the weekend going over my index cards, applying the structure to movies, and glancing through some of my favorite short stories. All have a beginning, middle, and end, which is the main concept of the three acts, but breaking them into eight sequences, seemed to be another matter entirely.

I watched Tears of the Sun this weekend, paying close attention for the sequences and yes they are there. It seems the process is much clearer in visual work rather the written word.

I was able to divide my cards, False Memory by Dean Koontz into three acts and managed to find a few of the sequences. It appears that the first sequence may be missing from books entirely, jumping quickly into the next sequence.

I read through short stories in Shroud Issue 2 Mar/April 2008. The acts are there in short versions, but seemed a waste of time looking for sequences, which I did not find. I'm sure longer short stories may have apparent sequences within.

Throughout the week, I will be visiting the different Acts and sequences. Feel free to share your comments on the structure.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I want to take a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May all your dreams become realities and your goals become reachable.

Each year, we begin with a fresh plate full of hopes and expectations.

I hope everyone sees their future brighten, and faiths restored.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dissecting a Novel - The Index Cards

This has been a long process. I'm reaching the end of the book and thought I'd share with you samples of the index cards. I hope you are able to read my handwriting. This is just to give you a general idea of what can go on the cards.

Setting, POV, Summary, Scene Type, end thoughts.

I found the Scene Type a little hard for me. As I neared the end, I began leaving it blank all together.

These are scenes from False Memory by Dean Koontz.

Hope my steps help others toward their goals of writing a novel.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

Directed by a comment to my post on Dissecting A Novel, I found this blog. There's a wealth of information on the structure of the novel. There are even breakdowns of popular movies such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Mist.

Author Alexandra Sokoloff has even been nice enough to supply a table of contents to her blog, making it easy to maneuver through her posts. At the moment, all the links are not there, but it still gives a general idea of which topics to look for to read the posts in order.

I'm deeply thankful for being told of this site and felt the need to share it with my followers.

Alexandra can be found at:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight

Damon Knight, a great writer and teacher, blessed us with this book Creating Short Fiction. He goes into detail of every aspect of writing a short story or any fiction for that matter.

He begins by exploring techniques of developing your talent as a writer. There's also a great section on turning ideas into story. The aspects of fiction are divided into three divisions: Beginning a story, controlling a story, and finishing a story. He then goes through the concepts of being a writer. There are many exercises throughout to help you become more aware of where your weaknesses lie.

I'd recommend this book to any aspiring writer. It's also a great read for you seasoned writers.

Feel free to share your own thoughts on this book. You can look inside the book at Amazon:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dissecting A Novel

In an effort to better understand novel structure, I've sat down and began dissecting a novel. I've read for years that this is a good process to help a new writer get a feel for writing their own but have continued to put it off.

I recently read Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, which is a great book for any writer. He describes a method of dissecting a novel to learn plotting. So, before I begin my revision on my NaNo Novel, I decided to give it a shot.

He suggests doing six different novels. I have my novels chosen and have begun my first. Will I do the other five? It depends on what I learn from the process.

Here's what you do: You read the book for pleasure, and then you take index cards and map out each scene. For each scene, you write the setting, point-of-view character, a two-line scene summary, and scene type. You also include thoughts on the ending. Does it make you want to read on? Why or why not?

Now that you have your cards complete, you can divide them into the three-act structure. You can identify your point of no return. You have a better view of the book as a whole broke down into sections.

I'll let you know what I learn.

Has anyone else ever done this? Would you like to share your methods of dissecting a novel?

Monday, December 14, 2009


I want to take a moment to apologize to my followers for not posting last week.

I jumped out of National Novel Writing Month straight into house shopping. I've found my new home and am now going through the steps of purchasing and will hopefully be moving in in January. Bear with during this time. I will try to get some new content posted as soon as possible.

Thank you for understanding.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Finding Time to Write

Most people find it hard to fit writing and the multiple tasks that go along with it into their daily routine.

If only there were more hours in a day. Wouldn't it be nice to have extra arms? The ultimate multitasking: Let your left brain get busy on one project, while your right brain is busy doing something else.

Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day and we can only do one thing at a time. So how do you fit it all in?

A fellow blogger, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, has taken the time to interview and post the thoughts and scheduling methods of eight authors. Take a look at how the pros do it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Life's Little Complications

Every time you turn around, life throws you another curve ball. You feel as if you are making progress toward your goals, and then there's another wall to climb.

Frustrations can grow in anyone's life, but you must learn to keep moving forward. Climb that wall, dodge that ball, do whatever is needed to continue progressing.

When things go crazy, do you let your dishes pile up? Do you grab clothes from the hamper for lack of clean ones? Do you skip showers? Do you take the day off from your job? For most people, the answer her would be no. So why is it so easy to skip a day of writing?

Forming the habit of writing, is a must for writers who wish to succeed. There are many ways to accomplish this. According to scientists, a habit can be formed in thirty days.

Make a schedule. Take a moment to sit down and plan out your day. Include your chores, work hours, television viewing, and etcetera. Now, look through your items and eliminate anything that can go. Fit in at least an hour a day for your writing - preferably, the same time each day.

Set a word count goal. Determine a reasonable amount of words to accomplish each day and strive to hit that count daily. Again, doing this at the same time each day will help. Make the count low and feel free to go over the amount. The point is to get you in the seat and writing at a regular basis.

Set a weekly goal. For those of you that have such a hectic life that you are unable to plan out each day, try setting a word count goal for the week and reach it. This will allow more flexibility, but be sure to complete the count by the end of the week, even if this means writing for hours over the weekend.

I'm sure there are other ways to get your writing in order. Feel free to share your habit forming procedures and your writing habits.
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