Story Structure & Beatsheets

#1
Anyone follow the 3 act / 4 part structure? 

I use as my base Joseph Campbell's Hero of a Thousand Faces, and I closely follow K.M. Weiland's site https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/. Adding to that a bit of JMS, Hague and Vogler, as well as others. 

I plot enough to create the through story line, divide that into 'Quarters', then chapers, and pants the chapters while making sure to cover the chapter's points.

At present, my beats are like this...

Q1Act 1
  • [01%] Hook, teaser, prologue 
(Set up)
  • [12%] Inciting Event 
  (Build up)
  • [25%] First Plot Point
Q2 Act2 (act 2 part1)
(Reaction)
  • [37%] First Pinch Point
(Realization)
  • [50%] Mid Point, Second Plot Point
Q3 (act 2 part2)
(Action)
  • [62%] Second Pinch Point
(Initiative)
  • [75%] Third Plot Point, Dark night of the soul
Q4 Act 3
(Recovery)
  • [88%] Climax Begins
(Confrontation)
  • [~98%] Climatic Moment
(Resolution)
  • [~100%] Tag, Closing Image
***
Currently I'm studying Weiland's idea of four Chiastic (mirrored) parallels:
  1. The beginning (hook) and the end (resolution) should bookend, coming 'round from a place of complacency to one of having been transformed.
  2. The inciting Event and the Climatic Moment mark the introduction and the closure of the main conflict. If it's a positive mc arc the baddie we met early on is defeated. If it's negative one the mc loses everything to the baddie.
  3. The first plot point should forshadow the third. They are both Thresholds, the first into the realm of adventure, and the latter is the return after the ordeals.
  4. The pinch points are the last pair, both described as reminders of the antagonist's power, and raising the stakes.
  • Special mention is the Midpoint, the linchpin around which the whole structure revolves.
***

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Re: Story Structure & Beatsheets

#2
I've read a lot about 3 and 4 act structure, and it seems to work well for movies.  It doesn't really fit with my ideas for novels or series though; not long enough or partitioned enough for a full story's plot structure (as my brain imagines it, this is personal to me).  I don't write heroic-journey stories though, so perhaps that's to be expected.

I do agree with the point that the beginning and the end should fit together.  This can also be described as the story question being introduced and answered.

I'm always willing to talk about theories of story structure. :)  I can always recommend more things to read if you want, some of them being more recreational than useful.

Re: Story Structure & Beatsheets

#3
Good ol' K.M. Weiland. I followed her for quite some time but when she started to write about archetypal Arcs she lost me completely. In my opinion she's better at preaching than actually writing herself but I have to be careful no to say that too loud or I'll burn myself too - again.

But good god look at that monstrosity of a diagram. This graphic is probably more complicated than simply writing the stuff down. I'm kind of curious. What kind of person can actually work with something like that? I feel an aneurysm coming just from staring at it too long.

There comes a point where you need to take a deep breath, a big step back, exhale and throw that overly complicated crap away. Things like that make beginning writers believe that they have to attend professional workshops to become a writer because obviously us mortals can't grasp the deeper truths of storytelling.

KatMac Wrote: idea of four Chiastic (mirrored) parallels

Yeah, how about no? At this point I'm convinced she likes to sound incredibly smart, but instead she reaches the point where the explanation is ten times as complicated as the phenomenon she's trying to explain. Using big words and sounding smart is all good and well, but not to the detriment of substance. 

Weiland is gratutious when it comes to applying a lot of terms to stories, making up her theories and then seeing if any stories matches what she prescribes. 

I hate it when people tell you to "just write", but at this point just writing is more effective than trying to comprehend the latest model of how story ought to be. 

Still, a nice post so props to you @KatMac

Re: Story Structure & Beatsheets

#5

sunandshadow Wrote: I've read a lot about 3 and 4 act structure, and it seems to work well for movies.  It doesn't really fit with my ideas for novels or series though; not long enough or partitioned enough for a full story's plot structure (as my brain imagines it, this is personal to me).  I don't write heroic-journey stories though, so perhaps that's to be expected.

I do agree with the point that the beginning and the end should fit together.  This can also be described as the story question being introduced and answered.

I'm always willing to talk about theories of story structure. :)  I can always recommend more things to read if you want, some of them being more recreational than useful.


Oh, at this point my kindle writing books section is just embarrassing.

I also collect writing info-graphics from the net. I have hundreds of 'em.

Re: Story Structure & Beatsheets

#6

KatMac Wrote:
sunandshadow Wrote: I've read a lot about 3 and 4 act structure, and it seems to work well for movies.  It doesn't really fit with my ideas for novels or series though; not long enough or partitioned enough for a full story's plot structure (as my brain imagines it, this is personal to me).  I don't write heroic-journey stories though, so perhaps that's to be expected.

I do agree with the point that the beginning and the end should fit together.  This can also be described as the story question being introduced and answered.

I'm always willing to talk about theories of story structure. :)  I can always recommend more things to read if you want, some of them being more recreational than useful.


Oh, at this point my kindle writing books section is just embarrassing.

I also collect writing info-graphics from the net. I have hundreds of 'em.
Well, feel free to recommend them to me, I'm a visual thinker and I love diagrams, unlike Father Grim, lol.  I'm not sure I agree with the bottom half of it, but the only part I don't quite get is why you'd connect beginning hook to first pinch, or second pinch and ending tag.


Cynthia Clay's Vector Theory and the Plot Structures of Literature and Drama is one I recommend, unless you hate either physics or the dialectic model of 'arguing' themes in story.
https://www.amazon.com/Vector-Theory-Structures-Literature-Drama-ebook/dp/B005LR78DO/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Vector+theory+and+the+plot+structure&qid=1631327211&sr=8-1

If you are interested in the relationship between theme and structure, Lajos Egri's Art of Dramatic Writing
https://www.amazon.com/Blueprint-Your-Bestseller-Manuscript-Architecture-ebook/dp/B00AR2RZFE/ref=sr_1_1?crid=HC4NJP3WRHJA&keywords=blueprint+your+bestseller&qid=1631327487&sr=8-1

and Stuart Horwitz' Blueprint Your Bestseller are good.
https://www.amazon.com/Blueprint-Your-Bestseller-Manuscript-Architecture-ebook/dp/B00AR2RZFE/ref=sr_1_1?crid=HC4NJP3WRHJA&keywords=blueprint+your+bestseller&qid=1631327487&sr=8-1

Or, if you ever feel like getting list down a rabbithole for weeks you could try Dramatica: A New Theory of Story and Dramatica for Screenwriters.  The main thing I actually use from it is the over-100 terms related to theme, motive, plot focus, character role, etc.  But it us a 4-act system so who knows, it might fit somewhat with your existing personal combo of theories.

Re: Story Structure & Beatsheets

#7

Quote:Well, feel free to recommend them to me, I'm a visual thinker and I love diagrams, unlike Father Grim, lol.  I'm not sure I agree with the bottom half of it, but the only part I don't quite get is why you'd connect beginning hook to first pinch, or second pinch and ending tag.
Because... those aren't the connections. They are represented by the horizontal dotted lines. It starts from the top left and goes counter clockwise: follow the arrows.

 Hook > Resolution/Tag
Inciting > Climax
1pp > 3pp
1 pinch > 2 pinch

Are you looking at the lines linking to 'story cycle'? It's a mind map, and 'story cycle' is the parent node.

Re: Story Structure & Beatsheets

#10

KatMac Wrote:
Quote:Well, feel free to recommend them to me, I'm a visual thinker and I love diagrams, unlike Father Grim, lol.  I'm not sure I agree with the bottom half of it, but the only part I don't quite get is why you'd connect beginning hook to first pinch, or second pinch and ending tag.
Because... those aren't the connections. They are represented by the horizontal dotted lines. It starts from the top left and goes counter clockwise: follow the arrows.

 Hook > Resolution/Tag
Inciting > Climax
1pp > 3pp
1 pinch > 2 pinch

Are you looking at the lines linking to 'story cycle'? It's a mind map, and 'story cycle' is the parent node.
Oh!  I did not expect it to be a mind map at all, lol.  Probably obvious in the original context.

Re: Story Structure & Beatsheets

#11

Seerica Wrote: If I wanted, I could find 4 act/Hero's journey in my work, but I put story before structure because I think that's more important for prose, unlike a screenplay format that treasures its space.
Story comes first to me, as well. What I struggle with is pacing, and that's what I need story beats for. They help me decide what event goes where, and gives me ideas on how to portray them. 

Like, I had a arguably positive event at the 3pp, but that's supposed to be 'the dark night of the soul', followed by the recovery period. So I nudged the event to the chaper after 3pp, and changed my outline to end the 3pp with the mc realizing just what they have to lose if they don't transform, and being tormented by that.