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Relentless Application I - Dramatic Act Structure


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All of the following are critical to your success at the conference, and to your goals following the conference.

By this time you should have completed the first seven assignments (title, story statement, etc.) or you’re at least in the process of completion. If you haven’t touched it, you’re either ahead of the game or you’re making a critical mistake. These assignments, and those which follow, serve two purposes:  to enable you to conceive and write a more perfect novel, one that might actually sell; and secondly, to instill within you with a language and knowledge base that will make meetings with publishing and tv/film professionals far more productive.
 
If a member of the faculty asks you to define your first major plot point, inciting incident, or last major reversal before climax, you must comprehend the nature of these plot elements (for starters!), and deliver the response in a manner that demonstrates you are a professional. Amateurs *always* stick out, and they say “um” a lot, thereby failing to live up to our motto:
 
From the heart, but smart.
 
Besides displaying a high concept premise, the faculty also expect your genre or upmarket tale to be creatively developed using a certain approach and structure—one also utilized by screenplay writers—namely, the dramatic act structure. Whether the novel is a single, coherent plot line, or a parallel plot line with two major protagonists, the overall story progression manifests a readily identifiable endoskeleton, so to speak, i.e., an array of familiar points and notes along a story arc from beginning to end. There is more than one version of this, but they all achieve pretty much the same results: the Three Act, Nine Act, and the Six Act Two-Goal. A very good example can be found here.
 
The above is included with your assignments and its importance cannot be overstressed. One of THE biggest reasons novels by unpublished writers fail is because the author is not sufficiently adept at plotting. A novel with a great start but a “saggy middle” always results from an inadequate understanding of how plot must work in order to satisfy the needs and expectations of readers, agents, and editors. Quite often, writers will bring stories and pitches to the NY event that are nothing other than circumstances, sets, and characters mixed into a quasi-amorphous stew, whirlpooled into forced fusion like fragments of a television season.
 
A sign this is the case can almost always be found in the pitch itself.
 
Acquisition editors, experienced agents, and other professionals usually don’t expect to get much traction out of the usual writer conference, but our events always surprise them. We mean to keep it that way. Our reps are on the line, and the better you look, the better we look. The more subs requested, the more contracts cut, the more willing our faculty are likely to return. No question. We also love the publicity and energy generated when the contracts flow.
 
How could we not? It’s an addiction.
 
This is the conclusion of “Relentless Application Part I.” The information delivered above is non-negotiable. If it doesn’t square with what you’ve been told up until now, then choose the wise path of change. Rewrite as necessary.
 
Remember, there are no great writers, only great rewriters.

AC Admin

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