Friday, January 8, 2010

The three-act, eight-sequence structure

If you're struggling with the structure of your novel, hop on over to the blog of Alexandra Sokoloff, a novelist and screenwriter who's broken down structure into manageable bits.

Here's the top of a post on how you can use index cards to tame your work in progress:
But the real secret of film writing and filmmaking, that we are going to steal for our novel writing, is that most movies are a Three-Act, Eight-Sequence structure. Yes, most movies can be broken up into 8 discrete 12-15-minute sequences, each of which has a beginning, middle and end.

I swear.

The eight-sequence structure evolved from the early days of film when movies were divided into reels (physical film reels), each holding about ten minutes of film (movies were also shorter, proportionately!). The projectionist had to manually change each reel as it finished. Early screenwriters incorporated this rhythm into their writing, developing sequences that lasted exactly the length of a reel, and modern films still follow that same storytelling rhythm.

And the eight-sequence structure actually translates beautifully to novel structuring, although you might end up with a few more sequences in the end. So I want to get you familiar with the eight-sequence structure in film first, and we’ll go on to talk about the application to novels.

And here's the rest.

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