A few steps to plotting the chronology of your novel's story arc in a 3 Act Structure
1. Think about the way in which you want to begin your story
When you start to plot a novel, you have two real options. You can either go with a status quo introduction, or an in media res introduction. With the status quo method, you start with the central character prior to something out of the ordinary happening (an example is THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY). With the in media res, you start with things already in motion (an example is FIGHT CLUB).
2. Plot the rising action--a series of events that happen to the character that force action
The next thing to contemplate is rising action. You need the plot to go somewhere. Things have to start happening to the central character. A distinction that is often made is that in the early parts of a book, things happen to the character, whereas later in the book, the character makes things happen.
3. End the First Act of the plot with the character resolving to take action
At some point in the novel, the central character must make the decision to act. This ends Act 1 of a three act structure. At this point, they begin to have goal directed behavior. That means that they must have goals. When writing a novel, this is often accomplished with a series of mini plots in which an action phase of opposition is met by a reaction phase.
4. The Second Act involves a series of mini plots and ends with the character at rock bottom
The middle section of the book will largely be comprised of the series of mini plots. Often, it seems as though the character has made real headway into accomplishing their main goal in the story. Then, extreme adversity causes them hit rock bottom. This ends the Second Act.
5. The character must have an epiphany to lift them from rock bottom
After the rock bottom, the character should come to some epiphany. This completes an internal change plot in the novel, and will lead to the external achievement of the character’s main goal during the Third Act. Often, the character will gain new resolve here.
6. The epiphany leads to the denouement, in which the primary goal is achieved and conflict resolved
Next comes a build up and then the denouement. The character either seizes the prize they have worked toward all along, or realizes that a different goal should have been their focus and achieves that one instead. Often a new status quo is achieved following the denouement.
7. After the main story arc is plotted, go back and flesh it in and check for consistency
The final job of the author is to go back and flesh the story in. Look for plot holes or other weaknesses. Make sure all the characterxe2x80x99s conflicts and motivations are sensible. Sub plots can also be added for more interest. All of this will comprise a lengthy revision process. Hemingway famously said x22I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.x22 Sticking with a difficult revision process can be one of the best tips for writing a good story.
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