The First Act with Author Emily Elaine

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The First Act of Writing with Emily Elaine

 

How do you introduce your story?

 

I always begin my books with a catastrophic event in the prologue that directly affects both the protagonist’s internal conflict and the entire plot. For Example, in my upcoming novel: The Born Weapons, my protagonist is the first “natural-born” of his kind and his birth is an act of Rebellion against “the Maker.” The Maker makes a deal with my protagonist’s mother that if she kills the Rebel Leader, who is her honorary brother, than her baby can live.

 

What’s your process of creating characters?

 

I base my characters off a theme such as truth or innocence. There after, I build their backstory, psychology, personality, appearance, and quirks. The themes I choose correspond to the plot work. For example, my protagonist is based on truth and the catalyst to the climax is the event in which he tells humanity the truth about why his kind was created.  

 

 

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How do you introduce the main conflict?

 

I design the main conflict and my protagonist’s identity to be symbiotic. In my current novel, the main conflict is that the ‘Alma’ (a type of cyborg) are subject to the oppression of their Makers and Humanity. Since my protagonist is an Alma, he and the conflict are introduced simultaneously.

 

How do you approach writing the first Act, or 25% of the book?

 

I love to hit the ground running. I believe that characterization and world building are best shown and not told, so I throw my MC into peril from the first chapter and introduce settings, characters, etc… in pace with the plot.  

 

 

 

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Do you use a certain number of scenes per Act?

 

Nope! I actually don’t pay attention to anything regarding quantity such as pages, scenes, or acts until I am revising. I only concern myself with following my outline to ensure I cover all my plot points, sub plot points, character development milestones, ect….

 

What’s the hardest part of developing the setup?

 

I assume that by ‘setup’ you mean world building and primary conflict. I often struggle to include world building details while drafting because I tend to focus on plot and character development. I’ve learned to let these details go and add them in while revising.

 

What has helped you develop your writing skills?

I have to say that the process of trial and error has been most helpful. I’ve been writing books since I was eight years old. Also, reading has helped improve my writing voice over the years.  

 

 

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Story Structure First Act by Usvaldo De Leon

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Story Structure First Act

by Usvaldo De Leon

 

Structuring a story is a challenge that writers meet in one of two ways: either they outline diligently before they write so much as a sentence, OR: they fire up the word maker and see what happens. The former are called plotters. The latter people are called pantsers and I am one of them.

The difference between the groups lies in how comfortable a writer is with chaos. To write is to literally visit a foreign land. Plotters like to have an itinerary. They know where they will be in the morning, where they are eating lunch, etc. Pantsers wake up and walk out the door with nary a thought for the day. Plotters attempt to impose control. Pantsers attempt to maximize experience.

I view writing as a discovery process. It lets me explore the characters, their interactions, the plot and setting. It lets me feel the story. I’m frequently surprised by what occurs, which leads me to more character driven, organic stories. For plotters, the outline process performs the same function.  The end result for both groups is a story that is thematically and narratively coherent.

For me a story begins with either a situation or an image. If I see an image then it is usually the climax. Seven men on a sailboat in the Pacific. One of them is trying to sabotage the boat, everyone knows it and everyone is on edge. If I have a situation, it is usually the inciting incident. A dying billionaire wants to read his obituary so he fakes his death.

Why my brain works like this is not something I think about. I believe it is churlish to be picky about how one receives inspiration. One does not find a ten dollar bill on the sidewalk and get upset it was not a twenty. Inspiration is a gift.

Next I figure out the bones of the story, a.k.a. structure. Authors use story structure because it is how people’s brains and hearts respond to narrative.

In the first act, the character sees a flaw in the normal world and ventures into the unknown to fix it. In the second act, the character faces myriad challenges to create a solution to the problem. In the third act, the character braces for a final showdown to win the prize and restore the normal world. This template covers everything from Star Wars to Liar Liar and all points in between.

 

 

Resources:

How to Take the Guesswork Out of What Scenes Belong in Your First Act

The First Act Turning Point

The First Act: Nailing Your Novel’s Opening Chapters

 

 

 

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