Thursday, November 15, 2007

Plotting — Act III

So you’ve made it to the end of your book, except for three or four final chapters — exciting chapters and ones that bring an "ah-ha" to the reader at the end. This reaction means readers are satisfied. You’ve excited them and ended with an emotion punch whether it’s to solve the mystery, brought the suspense to a close, enjoyed two people falling in love, or resolved a long-time mother-daughter relationship.

Near the end of Act II, your story appears to begin to resolve. The reader breaths a sigh and smiles, sensing that all is well, but not so. As Act III begins, the story switches. What appeared to be a calm was only the calm before the storm. Something happens to disrupt the serenity or the happiness, and the worst situation strikes your characters. This is why you always save the worst, most devastating conflict/crisis until the end of the book. You will bring the story to a screaming pitch, a "nothing can work out now" feeling that arouses the readers tension and emotion.

Then you have the final task of resolving this issue and bringing the book to a satisfying conclusion. In a suspense or mystery, the crime is solved, the culprit is captured, the lost child is found, the mother and daughter accept forgiveness, the wife learns her husband had not committed adultery, the fiancé doesn’t have to move to China, or the hero says he loves the heroine and proposes.

Act III is the resolution of your book—the last drama as each problem is resolved, explained, and the situation calms and draws to a close, allowing the reader to know that all is well.

One caution for writers is to avoid rushing the ending. Sometimes the story runs away with itself and when an author is restricted by word count, it is easy to find the words running out and then rush the ending. Make sure you allow yourself enough word count to bring the book to a well-rounded and satisfying conclusion. This means to resolve all subplots, all issues, and then the relationship part of the story—the mother and daughter, the husband and wife, or the hero and heroine. No matter what kind of story you write it must ooze emotion. Realistic emotion is the crux of a good story. It’s what draws the readers to your characters as they cheer them on to happiness.

Do you have a topic you'd like discussed? If so, please send a comment or write me an email at

No comments: