Beginning, Middle and End
I’m still working my way through the self-study course and I needed to make some notes. This is part of the problem I’ve been having. I’m forcing too much story into one book, I think, and couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong. I think I had too many plot points I wanted to include. There were too many things weaving around one another for it to be a linear storyline that made sense. Therefore, I’ve taken a few notes for posterity.
Present the setting, time and immediate context at the beginning of the story. Establish the tone the reader will rely upon. Compel the reader to move to the middle. Introduce the opposition. This should be done with a subtle notice in the beginning and move on from there. You should introduce your first door of no return here.
Readers are introduced to the hero’s world. A disturbance interrupts this hero’s world. The hero may ignore the call. The hero crosses into a dark world. If the hero could quite easily walk away from the conflict and go back to his normal way of life, you haven’t crossed the first threshold into the second Act. Some big thing has to happen to push them through so they can’t return. This should happen in the first quarter of the novel.
This is a series of battles between the hero and opposition. Subplots bloom here as well as the deeper meanings of the book. Deepen character relationships. Keep the reader interested. Set up the final battle that will wrap up the end. Toward the end of this phase is the second door of no return. The meat and potatoes of the novel happens here. This is where the hero makes his or her discoveries that will lead him toward the end and the final conflict. A mentor appears to teach the hero. Various encounters occur. The hero has a dark moment within himself he must overcome in order to continue. A talisman aids in battle. Door of no Return #2 should happen with a quarter of the novel left to go, toward the end of the middle. The hero has no choice but to go through to the knockout ending.
Tie up all loose ends. Give a feeling of something beyond the pages. What does it all mean?
The final battle is fought. The hero returns to his life or what’s left of it.