Beginning, Middle, End

By this stage, you should have rounded characters and a believable world to put your characters in. Now you need to work on the action, or plot. Every novel should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Without these three things, your manuscript will be a flop.

Some people are not sure what each of these things should be. If you look at the table below, you will discover what elements of your novel fit into each section. Yes, I have repeated myself in some ways but I did this on purpose.

Beginning

Middle

End

Birth
Life
Death
Status Quo
Conflict
Resolution
Foundations
Confrontation
New Order
 
Struggles
 
 
Relationships
 

In the “beginning” of your manuscript, you should introduce your main character as quickly as possible. You need to establish who your character is, where they live, when the setting is and what they are doing. It’s easy to remember – who, when, where and what. The beginning should be anything from 2 to 20 pages (at the most). If your beginning is longer than this, you will probably loose your reader.

The “middle” of your manuscript is somewhat deceiving because it actually takes up most of your novel. The start of the middle is at the first turning point, the moment your main character’s life changes and the main plot is revealed. As I said in the previous paragraph, this should happen no later than page 20 if you want to keep your reader interested. From this point on, there should be character development, numerous subplots and shortly after the first turning point – the point of no return. What happens to your character that means they can’t change their mind? Why do they have to go on the quest? This is the point of no return.

Naturally, you need to introduce subplots to keep things interesting and to keep the pace. You do this for the majority of the manuscript and then you come to the second turning point – the thing that shocks the reader (and your character). This is usually just before the big climax. It’s the thing that puts your reader on the edge of their seat, as they frantically read on to find out what is going to happen.

The climax should be near the end of your manuscript. If you have your climax closer to the middle then your reader will be bored to tears reading the rest of the book because there’s nothing to look forward to. Yeah, I know, you already knew this – sorry!

As soon as you’ve dealt with the climax you move into the “end” of your manuscript. This section of the story should be very short. Don’t drag out the ending because then your big climax becomes an anti-climax and you leave your reader feeling robbed and angry. Tie up all the loose ends quickly and type The End.

Go back to the contents page . . . | . . . Go to Part 9: Three Act Plan at a Glance

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