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:
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/
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