Outlining and Structure, Writing Tips

How to Outline: Using the 3 Act, 9 Block Structure: Part 2

Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome back to my tutorial on outlining using the 3 Act, 9 Block structure. If you’re not familiar with this form of outlining, make sure to check out Part 1 of this series as well as  Katytastic’s YouTube video, and  Brittany Tenpenny’s blog posts, which were my go-to sources when I began using this method.

Let’s get started looking at Act 2! I will continue to use examples from The Hunger Games (THG) to illustrate each step in the 3 blocks of this Act and explain how they connect to create the overall climax of the story, so spoilers ahead.

Act 2: Block 1 (Set Up):

New World: The main character is either literally or figuratively tossed into a new world. In The Hunger Games this transition is literal, as Katniss is thrown into the arena.

Fun and Games: This is usually where the hero is given a chance to adjust to the new environment without the pressure of the conflict immediately rearing it’s head. Because THG takes place in an arena meant to be a battle to the death, I don’t believe this step exists in the movie or the book. If you have another opinion, feel free to comment below and share it with me.

Contrast of the Old World: Here the main character is reminded of their original duty or home, and it dawns on them just how much their life has changed since the first act. In THG, it’s a nostalgic connection. I would say this comes into play the first time Katniss meets Rue because Rue reminds her of Prim, for whom she volunteered to go into the Games.

Act 2: Block 2 (Conflict):

Build Up: This is another sort of set up moment, because it prepares the  character for the “Midpoint,” which, while not the climax, significantly shifts a character’s goals, or point of view of the world. In the context of THG, Katniss and Rue team up for a time. Katniss becomes very protective of her because of how much Rue reminds her of her sister.

Midpoint:  This is where the character has a major revelation. For Katniss, it’s Rue dying. Since they met, it has been Katniss’s personal goal to keep Rue safe. I think, on some level, it’s kind of a metaphor for the way she cared for her sister. She feels like, if she can keep Rue safe, Prim will be safe as well.

Reversal: This is the explanation of  how the character has changed as a result of the Midpoint. Rue’s death causes Katniss’s goal to shatter, and it is the guilt she feels at not being able to protect her that leads to her refuse to be a pawn to the GameMakers.

Act 2: Block 3 (Resolution):

Reaction: How the protagonist reacts to the events of the Midpoint and Reversal. In THG, the GameMakers change the rules so that if two members of the same district survive, they can both go home. This Katniss prompts to go off in search of Peeta. If she couldn’t get Rue to safety, she is at least determined to make sure the boy who saved her from starvation when she was younger stays alive.

Action: The protagonist begins to change the course of the plot themselves, rather than letting others change it for them. In THG, Katniss finds Peeta near the river, almost dead, and disguised with camouflage paint. She helps him to safety and they take refuge in a cave.

Dedication: This is another piece to reinforce dedication of the hero to their new goal. Katniss’s goal is to keep Peeta alive, so when the GameMakers announce that the items each contestant needs most are waiting at the Cornucopia, she doesn’t let Peeta stop her from charging into what will surely be a bloodbath in order to secure the medicine they need to heal him.

And that’s Act 2! Next week, I will conclude the series with Act 3.
Challenge of the Week:  Was this helpful to you? What would you like to see me talk about when I’m done with this series?

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