Or as I like to say, ‘get your 3 acts together!’
Alas, we’ve crested the hump of our six keys to what makes a story good:
4) Beginning, Middle and End
On beginning, middle and end:
Commonly referred to as the 3 acts of story or sometimes even *the power of 3 (apparently ALL absorbers of information need it delivered in 3 lumps for it to be absorbed in all intended sweetness)
Now, there is a lot of controversy – old and new – about sticking to the f- word when crafting a story (f being the letter that begins a proven FORMULA). Many books on the craft of writing will tell you that the beginning and end should be 25% of the story each, leaving the middle for the other 50%. A good story is not a % game. It just so happens that a lot of good ones fall into this equation by natural occurrence of the writer’s story beats. DO NOT start your first draft of anything trying to make a plot turn by a certain page – no ‘expert’ knows how your story should be delivered – when it hasn’t even been written yet! It’s like telling a comedian how to deliver a joke (which incidentally is also done best when done with a beginning, middle and end). Timing is indeed everything – but the unique voice that everyone is in search of is your own special timing – don’t let a ‘book for dummies’ convince you any differently.
When it comes to BEGINNING – MIDDLE AND END, I like to think of it the simplest way possible:
Consider a trip (vacation, business, or otherwise): In the beginning, you decide to ‘go’ then you make the arrangements, you purchase your ticket (or fill your tank etc.) The middle is your journey (the airport, traffic, hike) and the end is the arrival at your destination and how that has helped you (realize your goal of taking a trip.)
Caveat: That part of the journey at 30,000 feet where you kick back and close your eyes should not happen in your story! This dreaded 2nd act lull needs to be converted to the part of the journey at 30.000 feet where you pull your chute and jump for your life! (you still meaning your main character – of course)
The you in this example is of course your story’s main character and the trip is the plot and sub-plots. And like it or not there are not an infinite # of these, in fact there are approximately 7…
Overcoming the Monster Hero learns of a great evil threatening the land, and sets out to destroy it.
Rags to Riches Surrounded by dark forces who suppress and ridicule him, the Hero slowly blossoms into a mature figure who ultimately gets riches, a kingdom, and the perfect mate.
The Quest Hero learns of a great Mac Guffin that he desperately wants to find, and sets out to find it, often with companions.
Voyage and Return Hero heads off into a magic land with crazy rules, ultimately triumphs over the madness and returns home far more mature than when he set out.
Comedy Hero and Heroine are destined to get together, but a dark force is preventing them from doing so; the story conspires to make the dark force repent, and suddenly the Hero and Heroine are free to get together. This is part of a cascade of effects that shows everyone for who they really are, and allows two or more other relationships to correctly form.
Tragedy The flip side of the Overcoming the Monster plot. Our protagonist character is the Villain, but we get to watch him slowly spiral down into darkness before he’s finally defeated, freeing the land from his evil influence.
Rebirth As with the Tragedy plot, but our protagonist manages to realize his error before it’s too late, and does a Heel Face Turn to avoid inevitable defeat.
As you read these brief descriptions you will notice each has a set-up, a journey and resolution. For more (extremely in-depth) look at these see this book, or many of the other how-to’s even if they do threaten use of the f- word as a writer and storyteller it’s important to read works from the likes of Joseph Campbell or Chris Vogler or even the density of Christopher Booker linked above.
As far as your 1st 10 pages go, they are where the reader best be made privy of the type of journey ‘you’ are going on.
Up next we’ll look at Protagonists.
• 1st 10 pages . com does not in any way promise that what you read on wikipedia is 100% accurate, but hey it’s a start.