ACT THREE – Resolution
Climax – Finale
The climax signifies the final moments of the story’s overarching conflict.
2019: After that meeting with my friends, I now had a focus. A strong pointer to where I needed to be. And I was able to join up my story structure subplot. I started using Save The Cat to outline my rewrite of a political conspiracy story, which would become “Deceit” (https://gerald-hornsby.com/deceit/) Before that, I went back to basics and used the first part of The Snowflake Method https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/ because it nicely mirrored a technique I’d learned from writing software, back in the day – the need to break down a huge project into smaller-sized, individual, mini-projects.
Reader – I tore through that story. I broke it down from first principles – Single Sentence Summary, Two Sentence Premise, and ending with a Five Paragraph Summary. Stepping stones to creating a great story. From there, it was another step to producing the 15 ‘beats’ of the Save The Cat method, and then another step to creating the 40+ scenes which go to make up my full novel, scene-by-scene plan. At each stage, the work had strong links to the previous stage. At no point did it feel like I was going out on a limb, not knowing where I was going to end up.
The long and the short of it was: I now had the confidence and drive to be able to pick up four thriller stories, which were complete to a rough Draft Zero, and needing a rewrite, and finish them all completely in a short space of time. Many of the scenes I had already written could be transplanted into the new structure with very little editing.
I was able to self-publish:
“Deceit” (https://gerald-hornsby.com/deceit/) in December 2019,
“Meltdown” (https://gerald-hornsby.com/meltdown/) in January 2020,
“Corruption” (https://gerald-hornsby.com/corruption/) in February 2020, and
“Wildfire” (https://gerald-hornsby.com/wildfire/) in May 2020.
In June 2020, I produced a box set of these four thriller stories (https://gerald-hornsby.com/thriller-box-set/)
Despite the situation globally, with lockdowns and self-isolation, I was now starting to earn some substantial income from my royalties. Not life-changing income, but definitely income. Not pocket money.
Around this time, the 20booksto50k Facebook group came to my attention. The premise was that an author should be able to earn an income of $50,000 from writing and publishing 20 books in a popular genre.
I was sceptical, but began following the stories of the members of that group – and time and again, by producing quality commercial fiction novels quickly, these authors showed it was possible to accelerate your royalty income up to and beyond $50,000 per year. They shared screenshots of their income, rising month after month as they released more books.
My experience with my thriller books showed that it was possible to produce quality commercial fiction books quickly. However, the release schedule of my first four thrillers would be almost impossible to reproduce going forward. Creating completely new stories each month, with new situations and new characters, would require almost superhuman effort.
I’m not superhuman.
I looked at what I’d done – by creating the story first, I could develop it in a shortened form with a scene-by-scene summaries and a total length of around 3,000 words. Then, I could use that to do what amounts to a developmental or structural edit on the story, get it all working nicely, before getting to work on the manuscript. I knew this would cut down on the editing process once the manuscript was finished.
Having completed these four thrillers, I now wanted to turn to crime (as it were!) and thought about writing a series based on a small, seaside town.
I took some of the shorter novellas I’d worked on, which seemed to fit that general idea, and adapted those stories to become a series, with identical location and repeating series characters. The main character was one plucked from the “Corruption” thriller, whom readers seemed to like. I built up some more series characters around him, carrying on the story from the end of “Corruption”, and thought up a few story scenarios for the 3 books in the series.
I started work on the first book, planning and outlining, in September 2020. It was published in December 2020, a little over 3 months later.
This system seemed to work. I wrote down what I thought I did, and when, and started organising it into a logical workflow.
From the New Year, 2021 (when I started on Book 2) to publish, “Body in the Hut” took 3 months to complete. This was novelling in an efficient way. I talked about it with my partner, and we thought it might be possible to make this system available for other authors to use. I pitched for, and got, a workshop gig for “The Efficient Novelist” at Swanwick, somewhere we try to go each year (https://www.swanwickwritersschool.org.uk).
I formalised the programme, fitting it into a 13-week cycle, and set to on the third book of the series. I followed my system to the letter. “Body under the Pier” was published exactly 3 months after I started.
This was the publishing schedule:
“Body on the Beach” (https://gerald-hornsby.com/body-on-the-beach/) in December 2020
“Body in the Hut” (https://gerald-hornsby.com/body-in-the-hut/) in March 2021.
“Body under the Pier” (https://gerald-hornsby.com/body-under-the-pier/) in June 2021.
Finally, the dust settles. Fulfil any promises made to the reader.
2021: Now, I needed to spend time writing a support book for the programme, and creating a 1-hour workshop to deliver to interested writers at Swanwick. I did both of those.
After which I got Covid.
After which I started working on the online course. The full course was completed at the end of March 2022, and comprises 42 modules, nearly 90 minutes of pieces to camera, over 200 voiceover segments and over 220 diagrams, illustrations and slides.
At the time of writing, I am spending the month of April marketing this course with blog posts, vlogs, giveaways and so on.
In May, after the course officially launches, I’m really, REALLY looking forward to working on the next series of novels, the Witford Mysteries. Based in a picturesque seaside village in Suffolk, we’ll follow the story of Emma Stafford, who moves to the village after the loss of her mother to cancer, and opens up a tea shop in the market square. But the tranquility of the village is destroyed by the death of a local businessman. The local police see it as a tragic accident, but Emma, with her knowledge and experience of Crime Scene Investigation from her career in London, thinks something is ‘off’ about the scene. She commences a journey to investigate and prove that she is correct – that Dan Harris was murdered. All she needs to find out is who, and why.
Somewhat strangely, and (as the youngsters would say these days – “a bit meta”) this set of blog posts started out as a simple 3-act 3-section story – beginning, middle, end.
But as I wrote it, and it was heading north of 1,400 words, I found I was getting bogged down in the end of Act 2 / beginning of Act 3. It’s the classic saggy middle, the Two-Thirds Point of Doom. Many authors get this – that certain point in your work when you begin to doubt yourself. You think “who’s going to want to read this load of twaddle”?
It was my story, make no mistake, and I thought it was an interesting story, but it was really starting to meander, and I was losing focus…
Hey! Hang on a minute! Isn’t that just what I was writing about, with my overwhelming catalogue of muddy and tepid narratives? How did I get out of that situation? By breaking the story down into smaller chunks. By hitting narrative beats in the classic 3-act / Save The Cat structure.
The rest, as they say, is history. Or MyStory.
Thank you for reading.
Thanks to the Reedsy Blog Three Act Structure
I have just completed my one-minute pitch for the Efficient Novelist course! See below:
The course, when it is available, will be at:
The YouTube channel associated with it is:
If you’re interested in the Efficient Novelist program, there’s a Twitter account, but it’s fairly quiet at the moment. It might be worth a follow for future updates: @EfficientNovels
The book is available from Amazon, and the online course is launching on May 1st 2022.
And if you found this blog post interesting or useful or a brilliant way to procrastinate, please consider buying me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/authorgeraldhornsby
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