How did this happen?

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Last night I sat down and wrote up an “outline” for a story. I put outline in quotes because I don’t typically plot books ahead of time so compared to the average book outline this one is sorely lacking. It’s just over one legal pad in length and it hit all the main ideas I have for the story. I wanted to jot down the high points before I forgot them, I wasn’t trying to create a plot.

This morning I was looking at it and noticed something. I grabbed a pen and five minutes later I was staring at the page in shock. I’d written a perfect story arc. Without trying.

Let me explain. When I divided what I’d written into sections (chunks of story, building blocks) I noticed each paragraph was a section. I don’t have two sections in one paragraph, or a section that stretches over two paragraphs. All total, seven of them. Then I labeled each one by what was happening- by the role that section would play in the story. Look at the labels I ended up with:

  1. Opening/Hook
  2. Inciting incident/end act 1
  3. And then
  4. And then
  5. Until finally/end act 2
  6. Act 3/ triumph
  7. Wrap-up/happily ever after

Upon further inspection I found that Act 1 has a positive ending, Act 2 has a negative ending, and Act 3 has a positive ending, which is much higher than the positive end to Act 1. Which is also textbook (by which I mean Story, by McGee).

Somehow, somewhere, without me noticing, structure has slipped into my brain!

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