Sep 25, 2013


Notes on writing - based on J.S.Bell 'Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure' - by Lisa Agosti

After the first big opening of your novel, your readers are hooked on the story and wanting for more (hopefully). 
The second act of your book requires scenes that stretch the tension, raise the stakes, keep readers worried, and build toward Act III in a way that seems inevitable.

The first tool at hand to get to that is DEATH.
The most compelling fiction has death hovering over the Lead Character throughout the whole story. Death can be meant as:
  • physical death: the obvious one
  • psychological death: the Lead needs to find a reason to live or reach the desired object. If he can't succeed he's willing to die for it
  • professional death: the Lead risks to lose his identity related to his career and success
The second tool to write a compelling second act is to create a good OPPOSITION.
For beginners it is easier to create a villain that is human. If the Lead is fighting a corporation, pick a group leader to help readers identify with the characters. Don't forget: the villain has to be stronger than the Lead to make the fight more intriguing.

The third tool we can use is the ADHESIVE.
An adhesive is any strong relationship or circumstance that holds people together. Here are some tips to make the adhesive strong:
  • life and death: Lead fights to stay alive, Opposition wants Lead dead
  • professional duty: for example a cops gets assigned a case
  • moral duty: for example a mother looks for her missing child
  • obsession: the Lead is obsessed with finding the Holy Graal
  • physical constraint: as in 'The Shining' by Stephen King. We all know the story, but if you need a reminder:

Have a good novel!