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Dramatic Structure: The Five Essential Parts of Fiction



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Sat May 29, 2010 8:47 pm
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Mr.Knightley says...



I recently used this in a review and thought I'd expand on the idea a little to help some other people. :) Here goes nothing...

Ever find yourself asking the question, What next? Do you sometimes feel at a loss for...well, words? If so, then never fear, my young grasshopper; Uncle Knightley has just the thing to set you back on your feet and on your way down the writing road.

The Five Steps of Dramatic Structure:

Number One: Exposition: This is the very first part of the dramatic structure (also called the dramatic structure pyramid). Here, you give your reader background information about characters, places, "historical" events that may have occurred before your story takes place, etc. It's very important that you make the explanations in the exposition as flawless and natural as possible; if the reader feels like you're forcing descriptions down their throat, then you'll never achieve that crucial hook, the idea that attracts your reader and makes them want to find out what happens next.

Number Two: Rising Action: Rising action continues to develop and round out your characters' speech patterns, personalities, histories, etc, by creating some kind of conflict that they must resolve. Conflict can come in the form of one or more of these:

Man vs man (Example: Violence, conflict of beliefs, bullying)
Man vs himself (Example: alcoholism/drug abuse, insanity, suicide)
Man vs society (Example: diversity, prejudice, equality)
Man vs nature (Example: Nature fights back, global warming, extreme weather)
Man vs fate/supernatural (Example: Ghosts/aliens, destiny, God)

Number Three: Turning point: The turning point, more often known as the climax, is the time when the main character (the protagonist) has to make a decision in order to fix the conflict. The decision doesn't have to be good; it can be either good (+) or bad (-). You want this part to be the thickest in action and excitement; if you pull it off correctly, your readers will be on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what happens.

Number Four: Falling Action:This is the part in your story when you can see the results of the main character's choices. If the decision is a good one, then most, if not all, of the characters involved in the conflict will enjoy the outcome, or see the main character's choice (sometimes a sacrifice) as a good one. If the decision was a poor one, the characters involved will most likely suffer in some way, shape or form because of it.

Number Five: Denouement: This is a French word, meaning, "untying" (pronounced dey-noo-MAHN). This part in the dramatic structure occurs at the end of your story, when the entire plot has been unraveled. This focuses on the main character and what he or she learned, if anything, from all that happened to them throughout the course of events. This is the place where a theme (moral or lesson) becomes apparent, something that offers the readers an opportunity to think about what happened and apply it to real life.

And there you have it: The five steps to writing fiction. If you ever feel lost at a certain point in what you're writing, be it short story or novel, take a second to look over these and think, "Where am I now? What could I do to move on to the next step in the best way possible?" I'm sure you'll find your answer in no time. :D
"You laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at you because you're all the same."

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Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:02 am
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LookUpThere says...



This is epicly awesome. Thank you so much.
  





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Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:24 pm
Mr.Knightley says...



Haha, a comment! Thanks very much! I'm glad (and relieved) that you liked it. :)
"You laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at you because you're all the same."

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Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:37 pm
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Moo says...



This was very helpful, thanks for sharing. :P Oh, just a question. Do you have any particular viewpoint on the portion of the novel that each section should take up?

Thanks, :)

-Moo
“Poetry is old, ancient, goes back far. It is among the oldest of living things. So old it is that no man knows how and why the first poems came.”

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Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:16 pm
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Mr.Knightley says...



Mad_Moo 25524 wrote:This was very helpful, thanks for sharing. :P Oh, just a question. Do you have any particular viewpoint on the portion of the novel that each section should take up?



Well, take any book that you've ever read, large or small. Each (of course) has dramatic structure; whether that structure was intentional or subconsciously executed by the writer makes no difference. As for where each part of the structure should take place, there's no exact position for each. All that really matters in my opinion is that they all meld together nicely, and the transition from one to the next is smooth. If you feel that you're not quite done setting up your characters for the plot, then don't try and rush into Rising Action. Focus on expanding what exposition you have, tweaking it where you feel it's necessary. If you force yourself to move on to the next step, then so will your readers feel forced to go from this. To this. To this. In a. Very. Halting. Fashion. And it makes for bad fiction. :P

Also, you'll find that dramatic structure works well, not only for the novel/short story you have as a whole, but for individual chapters. Now, it can get really complex and technical making a dramatic pyramid for every single chapter, so naturally you wouldn't do that. Instead you would use little bits of it here and there (mostly introductions) to enable you to move on to the next part in your chapter.

You can also meld a dramatic pyramid to fit a set of multiple chapters. For example:

Chapter One: The Betrayal (Would indicate how so-and-so betrayed someone else. The main characters would have no knowledge yet of this, so it's an introduction to what is going to happen. Exposition.)

Chapter Two: The Discovery (How certain people somehow managed to find out about the betrayal of so-and-so, and what they plan to do to stop this. Rising Action.)

Chapter Three: The Chase (The climax, where the good/bad guys finally meet, and the betrayer is found. Some decision is made on how to exact justice/revenge Turning Point)

Chapter Four: The Escape (Oh noes! Turns out that the decision the main characters made was a bad one, and the betrayer escaped! Falling Action)

Chapter Five: Reflection (Here the MCs would think about what they could have done better and sift through their emotions. Could be a cliffhanger if they decide they want to find the betrayer still. Denouement.)

And all of this in turn would be a single part of a storyline! As you can see, it can get a little complicated, and you don't really have to think about trying to do this in chapters. I'm just giving you an example of how it can be used more than once, and simultaneously. :)

Anyways, I hope I could help. As long as it flows and you feel natural doing it, then you should be great. :D
"You laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at you because you're all the same."

Lady Gaga
  





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Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:53 am
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TalaPaulwic says...



Gosh, the formula seems so cliched, but everything down to the Lord of the Rings has it. Very good, very descriptive. Thank you! :)
All I can hear; "I me mine, I me mine, I me mine". Even those tears; "I me mine, I me mine, I me mine". No one's frightened of playing it. Everyone's saying it. Flowing more freely than wine. All through your life; "I me mine".
  








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