Welcome, back to the second part of three act structure explanation. I hope this article will help you understand few things about the second act. Nobody becomes perfect in a day we all grow inch by inch slowly.
To start with the most frequent question asked by writers is that how we will know that its the beginning of the second act. How will we know that an act has to end here? Is there a certain rule like it has to be sixty pages or certain page numbers before you commence the second act or any act for that matter. This is one of the trickiest thing in three act structure.
To answer that NO I don’t think so and even if there is one don’t follow it. Don’t divide your act by the page number. It should depend on the character and the plot.
Because you know your story better than anybody else. You are the creator of it. So you must have a certain vision about the story or at least a vague blueprint in your mind. And this structure is also imaginary. It doesn’t have rigid rules that you can only write a certain number of chapters in act one.
There is not, but you can make one. In the beginning, I told you I am doing the three act structure because it’s the basic standard by which we see any story. But that doesn’t mean that you should rigidly follow that. Your story can have any amount of acts and any amount of chapter. It won’t hamper your story unless you know what you are doing.
For example, I don’t work with three act structure I have my own mini structures and a set tone. I am efficient that way. But readers do find the three act in my work because it’s also about how you perceive things
Some of you will say okay I get it. But can you give me some concrete baseline as to how I can distinguish it?
So, to answer that these are the points you can use as a reference
** A major decision
** A twist
** Emotional out break
** A reveal
** Death of someone important
The act is an imaginary line just to make it easy for the writers to know where they are going and what needs to be done next. You can use above examples to differentiate your acts but mind you don’t limit yourself to only these.
As I am saying time and again you know you are story better.
The next point is that after you have identified where your act begins what to do with it. You should take the second act as a bridge between the first and last act. If the bridge is not that strong, there is a possibility that the connection might break ending in chaos. Leaving both ends disconnected.
Your job is to enhance your story in the second act and all the good work you have done in the first act. While also maintain an excellent paved road to the climax. In some ways the second is lot depended on what you did in the first act. Likewise, the third act which is your climax will depend on your second act. The momentum and the pace while maintaining the equal amount of interest.
Major twist and plot
The second act is also the place where the major amount of twist and plot development happens. Almost all the major reveal occurs in the second act. Sometimes some major twist is kept for the last act especially in thriller and mystery novel. This happens because the mystery is what keeps us intact with the story. Whereas, in other genres, the reveal occurs right at the end of the second act. The reason behind is that to give thrust and motivation to fight at the end.
Revealing that someone closed to the family killed the king and betrayed so now the son has the motivation and the readers sympathy when he goes to the big war as an underdog.
You should also know that the second act is where the pace of the story gets picked up. And it doesn’t matter which genre you are writing. By the time you are the end of the second act. You should have momentum with you and considerable pace. Your story cannot move slow here. It’s a big NO. The three act structure is somehow placed that way.
And how will this happen?
A lot of writers have this common problem that they already have figured out the first scene and the climax. Except what happens in the middle.
It’s like writing two stories.
This happens because as a writer we get so much excited about few scenes that our whole story revolves around that. We get so much obsessed with this idea that we don’t pay attention to the major portion.
The perfect example would be putting lots of action and explosion and flying superheroes at the end to compensate for a weak storyline.
If you are having this problem, then you need some more honing of your skill. You should know that story is not only about the first scene and last scene. Seventy percent of the weight is carried by what happens in the middle. If you will have a weak middle section you will not be able to get out the proper reaction and emotions out of the climax.
It’s simple when you have a glitch in your connection you cannot have a proper conversation with the person on the other side of the phone. For seamless communication, there has to be proper uninterrupted connection only then you get the desired outcome. Same goes for the story don’t lose the connection in between carry that till the last scene.
Deep knowledge about your character and villain?
If you want to build a proper bridge you need to have clarified vision and knowledge about your character and villain. You are the writer and if you don’t have enough information about your character. How you are going to transfer that to the readers. You should know the character by the back of your hand. It’s no joke I am telling you. And not only your primary lead but also your villain/ antagonist.
The greatest example would be The Dark Knight what happens in the middle is all about Joker. His planning is falling into pieces. Therefore creating chaos and making it difficult for the batman.
Your story can have a great edge and better shape if you know your bad guy properly. Ranging from there motivation to desire to their goal. Another reason is that your protagonist and anatognist is in all three act structure.
Another important aspect is that other major character. You cannot drag your story with only two people. You need the support of other characters also. You should have at least three compelling characters to get a good spark of your story.
Another factor is that you have to know about your character. Have a deep knowledge of about your character like you are their best friends. Where he is going and what is his motto? Because sometimes a crucial step from the character can also mark the ending of first act and beginning of the second act.
What your protagonist did that affected the story and brought the twist. The twist is very important, so you have to be alert.
I think by now you know few tricks as to how to find your ends just think about the points I discussed. After you know your first act, second and third act. It becomes much easier for you to enhance your story.
I guess now it doesn’t look that intimidating. Of course, putting this on work will be not easy, but nothing is easy about writing.
What this does is that it gives you little more clarity about what you are doing and where you are going?
We have discussed the two acts here in the last part we will discuss the last act of this three act structure that is the third act. The climax as we say. Stay tuned.