Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Steve Berry’s 6 C’s

by Jodie Renner, freelance editor


Last week I attended Thrillerfest Writers’ Conference in New York City, for the third year in a row. As a freelance editor specializing in thrillers, I just love that conference! One of the highlights of this year's conference for me was an excellent workshop presented by well-known thriller-writer Steve Berry. I have attended several of Steve Berry’s talks and sessions over the years, and he’s always entertaining, informative and inspiring.

Berry’s workshop at Craftfest 2012 was entitled “Walk Before You Run: The Essentials of Story Structure.” He talked about the advantages of the age-old, time-tested three-act structure for stories, where about 20% of the story is in Act 1, the build-up; 60% in Act 2, the deepening of the plot; and 20% in Act 3, the conclusion. 

Berry also introduced his own catchy take-away list of six essential C’s:

Steve Berry’s Essential Six C’s: 

· Character

· Conflict

· Crucible

· Complications

· Crisis

· Conclusion


In Act 1, you establish CHARACTER and create CONFLICT, first with the inciting incident, followed by ever-increasing obstacles for your protagonist. You also pose the story question, which lays the groundwork for the plot line. And you introduce the CRUCIBLE, “that thing that gets a character to do what they normally will never do.”

In Act 2, you continue the story and deepen your characterization by introducing some COMPLICATIONS and a few subplots.

At the end of Act 2 and beginning of Act 3 is the CRISIS point or Climax. This is the protagonist’s darkest moment.

Act 3 is all about your CONCLUSION, where you present any final twists and wrap up your story with a satisfying, logical but unexpected ending.

Berry also spoke about POV and psychic distance, as well as effective, natural-sounding, compelling dialogue. More on these other ideas of Steve’s in future blog posts.


For more detailed information on Steve Berry’s 6 C’s and other words of wisdom to aspiring authors, as well as info on his bestselling novels and presentation schedule, visit his website at http://www.steveberry.org/


Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: WRITING A KILLER THRILLER and STYLE THAT SIZZLES & PACING FOR POWER (Silver Medalist in the FAPA Book Awards, 2013). Both titles are available in e-book and paperback. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the great tips! I am not a writer, but the idea of writing has been playing on my mind in recent months. Nice to start out with some basic tips. As a 40 year old, I thought it might be a bit late in life to try something new, but after listening to Steve on The Book Report radio show last weekend, I've realized he didn't start much earlier and was persistent for so many years before success struck. I think the show has been what's slowly triggered the desire to write, with weekly author interviews, and audio excerpts from such a variety of genres-opening my mind to new ideas. If anyone's interested, you can catch the show weekends (the stations and schedules are online at bookreportradio(dot)com) and for this particular interview I spoke of, check out their archived shows.
    Thanks again for the great tips.

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