12 September 2012


To recap on, To Paint A Picture With Words so far, when writing a story, your words take your readers on a journey into the world you have created.  Not unlike a painter who engages the viewer with the subject of the painting with colour, style and the medium in which it’s painted.  To engage our readers when writing, we use engaging characters, settings, plot, structure, theme, conflict, and the all important five senses (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight).

In Part 5 we’re going to talk about Structure.  So, what is structure?  Put simply, structure helps to organise and shape your story.  And although there are probably many ways to accomplish this, the method I prefer is the three acts.

Act One  (the beginning)
Introduce your characters, their relationships, and the settings.
Establish the conflict - that is, the situation that drives the main character to act

Act Two  (The middle)
The story develops
Complications and obstacles arise
The main character tries and fails and tries again
Tension grows until it reaches a climax

Act Three (The end)
Resolution of the climax
All loose ends are resolved

When writing a full length novel I find this method is helpful because it divides my story into three sections.  I know that in this first act, I have to introduce all my characters.  I may not have them all appear in a scene, but they will be mentioned so that the reader knows they exist in my story.  I also try to have all my characters introduced in the first 20-25 pages.  By the end of the first act the conflict should be established.

Act Two is by far the longest because it encapsulates all the complications and obstacles that the main character is confronted with in his or her quest.  So, it’s important to keep tensions coming and being resolved and in so doing, keeping your reader interested in the story.  Tension gradually rises toward the end of Act Two till you reach the climax.

Act Three, of course, is similar in length to Act One because it resolves all issues and lets the reader know what happens to all the characters.

What type of structure method do you prefer?


  1. Jill...your advice on writing is right on target!
    Great job!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Anna.