Neve minor neu sit quinto productior actu fabula.
(The story must not be smaller nor longer than five acts)
Orazio, Ars Poetica, 189-190
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The german author Gustav Freytag analysed plays and stories in the ancient Greece. They where planned in 5 acts.

This is one way you can take to plan your story, whether a novel or a play.

Hope this will be useful and interesting for those out there who dream of big stories.

my previous article
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Freytag's dramatic arc, or Freytag's pyramid

Freytag wanted to demonstrate that in a story there is and increase of the tension to a maximum that mitigates and then ends.

He divided the plot in

  • I: Initial situation
  • II: Conflict
  • III: Climax
  • IV: Denouement
  • V: Conclusion

The initial situation is the starting, where we introduce the setting, the tone, the type of story and the characters.

The conflict is the situation that shocks the protagonist(s) and changes the initial one. It causes the real development of the story.

The climax is the situation of maximum tension; its usually short and very intense.

The denouement starts when the situation is resolving, things are changing and the tension is decreasing.

The conclusion, well, is where everything finishes. The tension is not strong anymore, but there can be a final surprise that can suggest a sequel ;)

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This is a possible scheme to plan a story, but how do we expand our ideas into a stable plot?

Case #1: You just want to plan the development of the story. You are an instinctive writer. You like to have it planned but not too much.
So just start with a line for every act that summarizes the content, and then ... just write :)

Case #2: You want a few details planned. Maybe you don't know how to continue and expand, because you don't want everything planned but a line is not enough to give your story a stability.
You can now expand the lines into little paragraphs util you find your stable plot summary.

Case #3: You want to plan e v e r y t h i n g . Every chapter and scene.
You can expand every part of the synopsis, planning the numer of chapters, and in each chapter plan the scenes.

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Thanks for reading !

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My name's Alessia. I write and create. Well, I try
You can find me on instagram and wattpad as @/pensatilibero.