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  1. indy5live

    indy5live Active Member

    May 15, 2012
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    Should each act of a story be the same length?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by indy5live, Aug 17, 2012.

    So I'm writing a story divided into three acts. Should each act be roughly the same length? Let's say my novel ends up being 60,000 Words. Does that mean 20,000 words should introduce the characters and the conflict, the second 20,000 words the conflict starts to build up, and the last 20,000 words the conflict plays out, resolves, and the book concludes? Or does it not matter?

    Also, how soon in a story should I introduce the main conflict? Is 8 Chapters of suspense building too much before the main conflict is introduced.
  2. GoldenGhost

    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

    Jan 11, 2012
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    Your first act and third act are typically the same length, the middle being longer than both. As for specific numbers, based on the average length for a book, I cannot say, but I can give you an example you might be able to scale down to size. Let's say your book is 300 pages.. Act 1 will roughly be 50 pages, with the hook happening within the first 1-10 pages, and the plot point propelling the reader into act 2 somewhere in the 40-50 range, 200 pages serve as the middle, and then somewhere in the last bit of that is the confrontation, where your character is forced into act 3 and the plot resolves itself.

    But, I mean, technically that's all information based on the 3 act structure, or mythical structure, and 'formula writing.'

    Your story does whatever you want it to, as long as it flows as a whole, I'm not sure why you'd be too worried about it.

    I never saw a quote from Hemingway, in any of his letters to his editor, Fitzgerald, other friends, and such, where he said, "Well, I was trying to get the story started on page 20,"; or, "I figured act one was too long, Charles, damn too long. I had a hell of a time writing it, an awful time. I just couldn't get the damn thing into act two."

    No, he just wrote the damn thing.

    Hope that helps.
  3. captain kate

    captain kate Active Member

    May 4, 2008
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    Cruising through space.
    Acts? No necessary to make a novel work. I don't use them and mine flow just fine. 8 chapter's in before the main conflict is introduced? Probably several chapter's too long. If you're not introducing that until then, what kind of conflict is your MC facing up to that point? To make that long of a wait work, you need to have some secondary conflict, either internal or external or both, to carry you to that point.

    I didn't bring the main conflict into PR until chapter 9 (I run short chapters as a general rule, but that's just me). However, the conflict that carried the story along was the internal challenge my MC faced in adjusting to her new body, the shock of not dying and the external conflict of basic training. Those items gave me more then enough to get to the main hook, but even then you need to be careful about how long it takes.
  4. louis1

    louis1 Contributing Member

    Jan 3, 2012
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    no. It's could be but it's not a rule. the first act could be 3 pages the second 280 and the last 17 could be the thrid. whatever. none of this matters. don't add more to you first act just so it's the same lenghts as the third, or don't cut down on your second act because you think it's to long compared to the others.
  5. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    the 3-act structure mainly relates to screenplays, where the number of pages [= minutes of running time] is severely limited... novels are a different breed of cats, offering a writer the freedom to wend one's way through the plot and subplots much more leisurely and not have to adhere to such a strictly mandated structure...

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