Three-Act Structure Paradigm

Dear Writers,
I was delighted to again serve on the faculty of the Chuckanut Writers Conference last week in Western Washington. Here’s a snippet from a session I taught on how writers can draw from film storyboarding concepts to create a text-driven version of a storyboard. In this moment, the discussion centered on the three-act structure paradigm.

Let’s turn to our friends the screenplay writers for a moment. It’s some of their tools that we are borrowing and modifying to make our stories. Looking at conventional film structure is useful in gaining a better understanding of story action and plot points.

The conventional three-act structure looks like this:

In Act I, is the setup. The character(s), the action of the story, the problem or question of the story is established. Continue reading

June 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,

We got mobbed by the geezer gang at open mic! Here’s who was there and what they read:

Her astrologer determined that CJ Prince would write about sex and death, so no surprise that she launched the night with pieces titled “One Night Stand,” “Hot,” and “Vanity.” After we broke for cold showers, Carol Hunter resumed with a very moving piece on the fallout of the drug war in Mexico. Dianne Meyer shared a beautiful and humorous tribute to a writing friend, “Ethel, When Last Seen.” Vince Laudi offered two protest pieces—”The Gun Lobbyist” and “Our God is Better than Your God”—along with “Coal Train,” a spoken song in search of a melody. Janet Oakley beautifully read “Technicolor Dreams,” published in the anthology A Cup of Comfort for Women.

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May 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,

What would you like done with your body after you’re dead? At the May open mic at Village Books, Shannon Laws’ comtemplative poem “Perhaps” offered a resonating reply. Henry Cross came next reading “Nessie,” a charming recollection about a true son of the South. His better half, Susan Campbell Cross, treated us to an excerpt of her novel in progress titled Consequences. She has 400 pages written to date. Go, Susan! With his usual panache, Matthew Brouwer entertained with poetry recalling a sour day at Folk Life (but it’s been much better lately, he reports).

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