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By Mary Walker Baron

Structuring your story is not easy. You can make it easier, though, by reading The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. My copy of the book is dog eared, marked up, and undeniably trashed.  Not only does Campbell tell you what to do, he also gives you examples from films, novels, and mythologies. He suggests you divide your manuscript into four parts.  The first quarter makes up Act I.  In this first act Campbell tells us to create the central character’s ordinary world, the call to adventure, the refusal of the call and the first threshold. Thresholds are liminal moments of decision and uncertainty—things to cross over.  The next two quarters of the manuscript make up Act II in which the central character encounters tests, allies and enemies and then approaches the inmost cave to find the supreme ordeal and ultimately the reward followed by the road back.  The last quarter of the manuscript (Act III) contains resurrection and a return with the elixir.  Somewhere in Act II our central character confronts the crisis and in Act III we have the climax.

I love reading mysteries and action adventure novels.  The good ones are structured just the way they should be.  Read anything by Lee Child or the late Vince Flynn or Tess Gerritsen.  

Do your homework and take the time to structure your story.  You won’t regret it and neither will your readers.

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