I’m slowly outlining a series where every book has a 4 Act structure. It’s rather defined too with a ‘mini-climax’ occurring at the end of each section. This has been the style for this series for a while, but I’m finally getting a closer look at it. In fact, I’m seeing how my other books have acts in some form. Take Beginning of a Hero (you can for 99 cents!):
Act 1– Luke gets to the academy and starts his adventure.
Act 2– Luke deals with the Hellfire Elf.
Act 3– Luke deals with the Lich.
Going by this division, I can see a few things about writing a story with ‘acts’ that I never noticed before. So I’m going to list them here and see what people think.
- Not every act is the same length. Some are big at 6 chapters while others can run only 3. It’s not the size that should matter, but the content.
- You don’t have to define the acts or make them obvious, but you should have some type of ‘action’. If an entire book has mild cut-offs for legs of an adventure then it’ll come off as one long act. This could lose readers.
- It doesn’t hurt to give titles to your chapters when working with acts. This can help define them more and you can give big titles too. Right now I’m thinking of not putting titles on my chapters because I have multiple events happen in each one. For example, a chapter in Legends of Windemere can have Luke talking to Kira, Delvin exploring Bor’daruk, and Nyx battling a demon in a volcano.
- There’s probably a limit on how many acts you can have in a story. I’d go with 5 only because of Shakespeare. Then again, I could easily be wrong here.
- Acts is a tough word to say while paying attention to your voice. It sounds like ‘axe’ when I say it, but I know there are other ways. Definitely a word that one should say quickly and not linger on.
So, what do you think about acts in stories? Do you do it without noticing?