Plan your novel with a Plot Board using the Three-Act Structure

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First, let me describe how scatterbrained I am. As one of those creative types, I really lose track of things easily… time, my cell phone… you get the picture.

I get so immersed in writing that sometimes I forget that I need to create a cohesive product that will make sense to others. (Read my post on Flow.) I have the story all in my head, but I can’t forget to make sure that story is clear.

In writing my first novel over the last decade, I would write whatever… haphazardly throw in transitions and call it a chapter. My ex-husband was a writer also, but he had formal training. He wrote screen-plays and followed the Three Act Structure religiously.

Until he was in grad school and talked about it regularly, I had never heard of the Three Act Structure. But every movie we watched together, he would mention, “Oh, there’s minute 17, right where it should be” or “Act 2 just started!”

I understood on a basic level, but I never really thought deeply about it.

Here’s the sad part: I waited until my first, second, and even third drafts were finished before I started examining the structure of my book. Did Act 1 present the “normal world” for the MC? Did I have an inciting event? When did Act 2 start?

So I made a list of all the scenes in my third draft. It was a MESS. A grand, beautiful, disappointing mess that I needed to sort out and make sense of.

Then I found this blog post¬†over at about making a plot board. (Shout out Shaunta… you made my life SO much easier!) Something clicked for me. I began research on the Three Act structure and dashed out to Staples to get some foam board and post it notes!


(This is the only straight edge I have in the house…)


Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2!



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