Happy Friday everyone. Casey here!
Two announcements. The first: I’m participating in The Romance Review’s Sizzling Summer Reads Party. Check it out starting June 1st! Click on the lovely beach to the left and you will arrive at the party.
The second piece of news is at the end. (I know, such a tease!!)
One of my favorite courses in college was studying Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies. An often quoted line among thespians is “the play’s the thing.” I spent seven years in drama clubs and amongst the players it took on a different meaning. The play was the thing. The thing we were striving to perfect and perform to the best of our abilities.
But that is not the thing that Shakespeare meant. The popular line is from Hamlet:
“I’ll have grounds more relative than this—the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”
The thing in this case, is evidence corroborating the information received from a ghost – that his uncle murdered his father. Hamlet would do this by performing a play at court and adding in a few lines about regicide. Then the prince would wait and watch for his uncle’s guilty reaction.
To modern ears and eyes, this seems a rather convoluted and unscientific way to ascertain guilt, but back in the Renaissance, it was a common psychological belief that you could subconsciously influence the guilty person’s mind with a mere suggestion. Thus, the villain would be revealed through either expression (a guilty look) or action (full out confession).
So, what does this have to do with writing? And have I completely lost my mind?
I use a three act structure – just like a stage play. There are a million ways to plot a novel and this is just what works for me. Like the other stages of the process, this is high level. Think thirty thousand feet in the air looking down.
Like Hamlet, I throw out a suggestion of what might occur. Later, as I go more in-depth, concrete plot points are teased to surface, much like the uncle’s guilty conscience.
Act One – introduce your character in their everyday world. Then, introduce the event that will move them out of their comfort zone (aka the call to adventure). Like before, I write one, short paragraph.
Act Two – this is where the bulk of the action should occur. The place many authors find themselves with a sagging middle if they aren’t careful. But that shouldn’t been a blip on the mental radar at this point. Right now, think obstacles. You don’t have to specify the problems. Only note the bare bones, overreaching issue (for example – stop evil overlord from achieving world domination or save beloved homestead from being destroyed by greedy real estate developer). That’s it. As mentioned in previous posts, the less the better. The assignment here – write a sentence or two. That’s it.
Act Three – resolution. The happy ending. The happy for now. The main bulk of the plot concluded. For me, I often only know the very, very end. Since I write romance, they all lived happily ever after. I usually don’t have more than a sentence or two.
Again, the plot details will come. Just not right now.
Normally, I would give you examples of my own work, but since spoilers are involved, I’m not. Instead, I’d like to announce –
Mystic Storm is on sale now!
Share and share alike. How do you like to plot your stories? Have you ever laid a mental trail hoping to achieve a specific result?