My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Submitted a Story & Story Structure

I just submitted a 7,500 word short story to an anthology. Even though this is a short story it's longer than most of my short stories and I worked really hard on it. I'm really excited about it. I hope they accept it and it gets published in the anthology. Beyond that I am going to make it into a graphic novel and an audio book. I used what I've learned about story structure to plan out the story in four parts before writing it. I broke it into four parts to match the four parts of the three act structure. If you're not familiar with that you have:
  • Act I - the first 25% of the story
  • Act IIa - the first part of act 2 is the next 25%, the end of this is the midpoint of the story
  • Act IIb - the third quarter of the story, the end of this pushes you into act 3
  • Act III - the last 25% of the story and the last act that gets you to the resolution of the plot.

Quite a few things happen at key parts of stories - or at least they should. Watch just about any movie and you'll see these things happen at the same time. For more on this, check out these breakdowns of popular movies.

  • Act 1 introduces the character, the setting, and the conflict.
  • Act 2a is when the characters start wandering through the "new world" they've been thrust into.
  • Act 2b is when they change from reacting to acting and start fighting back.
  • Act 3 is when the final showdown happens with the bad guy and everything gets resolved.

My favorite tool for wrangling my story into the right structure as I outline is Blake Snyder's Save the Cat Beat Sheet which I linked to above. It has several story points that do specific things and go in specific places in your story. Making sure you hit these points in your story really help it to flow better and hit the reader on an emotional level better. They also seem to help me fix my stories when I can't figure out what's wrong with them or where they should go next.

What tools do you use to write better stories? Thanks for stopping by!

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